City of Vancouver Trademarked Hells Angel Sign

Commercial Drive Businessman Bill Pomeroy started a public controversy over ownership of the iconic East Van cross sign when he started selling pictures of it in his Artrageous framing store. Rocco Dipopolo, a former Hells Angel prospect, claimed to have copyrighted the neon East Van cross, an official trademark of the City.

"I have taken a photograph of a public sign. He has copyrighted the same cross with the text. But I am not duplicating his logo, I am duplicating the sign," Pomeroy said Monday. "It is all quite confusing."

Dipopolo did register something called East Van Inc. + Original Cross with the Canadian Intellectual Property Office on Jan. 12, 2010 - almost five months before the City of Vancouver got the trademark from the same office.

An angry Dipopolo said Monday that the image of the cross was first used almost 20 years ago by a Hells Angels puppet club of which he was a member at the time.

After checking with the city's legal department, manager of communications Barb Floden said the East Van design is registered "as an Official Mark under the Trademark Act.

"This means that any registration such as the one made by Mr. Dipopolo is not really relevant since, like the City of Vancouver mark and Stanley Park, only the city has the legal authority to permit or prohibit the use of the mark," Floden said. "Uses of the mark before it being registered as an official mark are grandfathered, so Mr. Dipopolo may have a legal right to continue using it, but he no longer has the authority to prevent his competitors from using it."

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