The suit, filed in Multnomah County Circuit Court on Thursday, asks the court to declare the city's trademark of the sign, which changed to "Portland Oregon" in 2010, invalid and unenforceable.
Jeff Kunkle, owner of Vintage Roadside, tells WW that attorneys for the city have been going after artists for using images of the signâin both its current form and its previous iterationâalleging trademark violation.
Kunkle argues, though, that the city's understanding of its trademark is overly broad and that it harms artists.
The city of Portland charges companies between $100 and $20,000 each time they seek to use the sign's imagery. The fees depend on the annual gross revenue of the companies. The money is meant to offset the cost of maintaining the signâan estimated $28,000 per year.
Portland took control of the sign in 2010 after a heated struggle with the University of Oregon, which wanted to change the sign to promote UO.