DUBLIN, Ohio (AP) -- A global computer library service is seeking one heck of a fine against a New York City luxury hotel.
The Library Hotel, overlooking the New York Public Library, opened in August 2000 as an homage to the Dewey Decimal system of classifying books by topic.
Each floor is dedicated to one of 10 Dewey categories. The 60 rooms are named for specific topics, such as room 700.003 for performing arts, with appropriate books inside.
Trouble is, the classification system isn't in the public domain.
Online Computer Library Center, a nonprofit organization based in this Columbus suburb, acquired the rights to Dewey Decimal in 1988 when it bought Forest Press.
The system is continually updated, with numbers assigned to more than 100,000 new works each year as soon as they are cataloged by the Library of Congress, according to the OCLC website.
Now the library group is suing the Library Hotel, accusing it of trademark infringement.
The complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Columbus on Wednesday seeks triple the hotel's profits since its opening or triple the organization's damages, whichever is greater, from hotel owner Henry Kallan.
"I would term it straight-out trademark infringement," said Joseph R. Dreitler, a trademark lawyer with the Columbus office of Jones Day, which represents the Online center.
"A person who came to their Web site and looked at the way (the hotel) is promoted and marketed would think they were passing themselves off as connected with the owner of the Dewey Decimal Classification system."
Melvil Dewey created the most widely used library classification system in 1873. Each of 10 main categories, such as social sciences, mathematics or the arts, has thousands of subcategories, designated by decimal points.
The center charges libraries at least $500 a year for its use.
The center also provides computerized services such as cataloging materials, locating reference books and arranging interlibrary loans to more than 45,000 libraries in 84 countries.
Similar unauthorized uses of the Dewey system mostly have resulted in out-of-court settlements, Dreitler said.
The lawsuit said the center sent three letters to Kallan from October 2000 to October 2002, asking for acknowledgment of Online's ownership of the Dewey trademarks, but the hotel owner didn't respond.
Hotel general manager Craig Spitzer and OCLC spokeswoman Wendy McGinnis did not return phone messages Saturday requesting comment on the lawsuit.
Dreitler said the center is willing to settle with the hotel's owners.
"At a minimum, if they want to continue to use it, there certainly has to be some sort of a license to the Library Hotel," he said. "We're not interested in putting the hotel out of business."
I fail to see the outrage here. This is a private and protected system that is being willfully infringed upon. The rightful owners of the concept attempted to deal with them multiple times before filing a lawsuit, and made quite clear they'd be willing to settle if the hotel would make a deal to acquire the rights to use the concept as part of their hotel. Seriously, this is really one of your weaker choices in the "LAWSUIT! BAD!" category :)
I agree that this a relatively open-and-shut case of trademark infringement, but the outrage can be that it's the Dewey frickin Decimal System, the one thing that holds libraries (and thus the world) together. And it's copyrighted! That's like copyrighting soap!
Sometimes I ask myself why I watch WWE after all the crap it's given me. HLA, necro, HHH, and so on. And then it hits me. That one simple phrase that can be modified and used for anything that gets you down, yet makes you keep coming back.
Every episode has the potential to be the best one ever, and I'll be damned if I'm going to miss it after sitting through this shit.
Yes, the trial lawyer industry is both huge and shady. However to point to legitimate protection of a trademark as an example of where the legal system is flawed is just not making your point in the slightest. Attack the folks who got the tobacco companies for billions or who are trying to sue McDonalds or any of the other many lawsuits that are frivolous. Heaven knows you've posted enough of them in the last few months. But if you're going to complain about people defending their trademarks via the legal system then you've gone from righteous anger at a flawed legal system to just simple monomaniacal hatred of the whole concept of the lawsuit.
Oh, and Gugs, you go try to sell Gugs brand soap, the 99.44% pure version, and see if the Ivory people aren't on your ass (the soap makers, not the wrestler as that would be quite pleasant actually)