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Cleveland Metroparks Zoo sues Pittsburgh Zoo over name ‘Asian Lantern Festival’

Asian Lantern Festival preview at The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo on June 17, 2019.  (Kyle...
Asian Lantern Festival preview at The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo on June 17, 2019. (Kyle Lanzer/Cleveland Metroparks)(KYLE LANZER | Kyle Lanzer/Cleveland Metroparks)
Published: Jul. 9, 2021 at 12:12 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo filed a lawsuit last week against the Pittsburgh Zoo over an event name.

The Cleveland zoo is accusing the Pittsburgh Zoo of trademark infringement for using the name “Asian Lantern Festival.”

Documents show the lawsuit was filed July 2 in federal court. The filing calls for action on “trademark infringement, unfair competition and false designation of origin.”

The lawsuit asks that the Pittsburgh Zoo cease use of the name, pay damages and legal fees, and issue corrective advertising.

The Pittsburgh Zoo did not ask permission to use the name for their light show, Cleveland Metroparks said in the lawsuit. The Pittsburgh Zoo’s “Asian Lantern Festival” is scheduled to happen later this summer.

Documents claim the Cleveland Metroparks originated and trademarked the name “Asian Lantern Festival” in 2018. When the Cleveland zoo trademarked the name, it was not in use elsewhere, according to the documents.

The lawsuit alleges that Pittsburgh Zoo staff visited Cleveland’s Asian Lantern Festival in 2020 before deciding to host a similar show. Cleveland Metroparks Zoo’s event is presented by Tianyu, the same organization providing a light display for the Pittsburgh Zoo.

Cleveland Metroparks learned of the Pittsburgh Zoo’s event on June 22, the lawsuit said. Just days later, officials emailed the Pittsburgh Zoo about their trademark and asked them to rebrand.

When the Pittsburgh Zoo didn’t respond, Cleveland Metroparks sent a cease-and-desist letter.

“On July 1, counsel for Pittsburgh Zoo sent a letter to Cleveland Metroparks asserting that Cleveland Metroparks cannot claim trademark rights,” the lawsuit said. “The letter also said that Pittsburgh Zoo would consider re-naming next year’s event, but made no guarantee.”

Cleveland Metroparks filed their lawsuit the next day.

The Asian Lantern Festival at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo starts July 14.

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