Apparel company sued over M-22 highway trademark

TRAVERSE CITY (AP) - The state of Michigan has sued a local apparel company, alleging it violated state and federal law by trademarking the M-22 highway symbol.

MLive reports that the state's legal action is in response to M22 LLC's creation of items that display the sign of the popular and scenic Northern Michigan highway.

The state says the law doesn't allow registration of the state's road signs and that trademarks make the highway non-compliant with the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Device.

"The state's trunkline route marker is installed on numerous federal aid projects in Michigan and, as such, the MUTCD Standard precluding trademark protection for all signs installed on federal aid project applies," Assistant Attorney General Toni Harris wrote in the lawsuit.

Attorney General Bill Schuette said in a 2012 opinion that no entity can claim exclusive control over Michigan's highway route marker design because it's in the public domain and not subject to trademark law protection.

The case was originally filed in Ingham County Circuit Court and then transferred to U.S. District Court in Grand Rapids. It has been litigated for nearly three years in front of the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, which has rejected three motions filed by the state.

"It's pretty desperate," said John Di Giacomo, a Traverse City attorney representing M22 LLC. "This has been going on for two-and-a-half years. My clients have won every step of the way. The attorney general has run out of options to delay."

Published: Fri, Sep 09, 2016