Pet Friendly Inc. royalty claim halts Illinois “pet friendly” license plate plan to fund sterilization
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, October 2003:
SPRINGFIELD–Sales of “pet friendly” license plates to raise
funds for dog and cat sterilization remain suspended in Illinois due
to a claim of trademark infringement made by the rope toy maker Pet
Friendly Inc., and may be in “legal limbo” in several other states,
American SPCA Midwest representative Ledy VanKavage told ANIMAL
PEOPLE shortly before the October 2003 edition went to press.
Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White confirmed on August
26 that sales of the Illinois plates reading “I am pet friendly” were
halted after his office received a demand for $563,000 in
authorization fees and royalties from Pet Friendly Inc. vice
president Charles W. Weinacker Jr.
Pet Friendly Inc. claims to have about 80 employees and sales
of approximately $10 million per year.
U.S. Patent and Trademark Office records “show that the Alabama
company applied for three trademarks in 1995, but the applications
were abandoned,” wrote Dana Heupel of Copley News Service. “The
company applied for a combined trademark for clothing, pet toys,
and pet food in 1997. The mark was registered on January 8, 2002.”
Pet Friendly Inc. has applied to use the term on carpets and
for hotels, but these trademarks have apparently not yet been
granted, Heupel said.
Heupel also found that a New York firm registered “pet friendly” as a
trademark in 1997 “on a component of a detector to distinguish
between human and animal signals.”
Former Illinois Governor George Ryan on January 11, 2002
signed into state law a plan to finance the Illinois Pet
Overpopulation Control Fund through the sale of license plates
reading “I am pet-friendly.” The plates sell for $118 the first
year, $105 per renewal, and provide $25 per sale to the
Overpopulation Control Fund.
Weinacker told Heupel that Pet Friendly Inc. sells vehicle
plates bearing the words “pet friendly,” and that he had sent
demands for authorization fees and royalties to the state of Missouri
and the Humane Society of the U.S. as well.
Missouri responded, VanKavage told ANIMAL PEOPLE, with a
claim of sovereign immunity.
The earliest use of the term “pet friendly” discovered by
ANIMAL PEOPLE in web-searching was by the Los Angeles Daily News on
June 12, 1988.
The earliest use of the term in connection with a product
appeared to be by Pet Friendly Publishing Inc., of Scottsdale,
Arizona, which in May 1995 issued the first edition of Vacationing
With Your Pet: Eileen’s Directory of Pet-Friendly Lodging, U.S. &
Canada, by Eileen Barish.