Port Authority Claims Ownership of NYC Skyline

The 212 line of dishware from New York store Fish Eddy that has been issued a cease and desist order by the Port Authority. Photo: Fish Eddy.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PA) is asserting its supposed right to images of the New York City skyline, issuing a cease-and-desist order against a china pattern from home goods store Fishs Eddy, reports the New York Times.

“Your use of the Port Authority’s assets on dinnerware and other items is of great concern to the Port Authority,” wrote Veronica Rodriguez, a lawyer representing the PA, to the store on July 24. That kind of serious language certainly implies a greater threat than salt shakers and coffee mugs, and yet here we are, in a world where a government agency is seeking to prevent the artistic representation of the city’s most iconic buildings.

According to Rodriguez, the depiction of the new 1 World Trade Center building on the playful black-and-white “212 New York Skyline” line of dinnerware could “evoke thoughts of the Port Authority, the twin towers, W.T.C. and the September 11th terrorist attacks.”

Fishs Eddy’s “Bridge and Tunnel” collection of mugs, coasters, dish towels, and tote bags, which features the Lincoln and Holland Tunnels, has also been targeted by the PA. The sale of the goods, claims Rodriguez, “interferes with the Port Authority’s control of its own reputation.”

The store has been ordered to stop selling the dishware in question and to “destroy all materials, documents and other items bearing the assets.” Thanks to the sale of the 212 line, Rodriguez argues, Fishs Eddy is “unfairly reaping a benefit from an association with the Port Authority and the [9/11] attacks.” It seems a fairly preposterous claim, especially considering that the only place in New York that artnet News associates with the Port Authority is that terrible bus terminal in Times Square.

Fishs Eddy does not intend to comply with the order, given the large number of explicitly Twin Towers-themed merchandise sold throughout the city, including at the controversial National September 11 Memorial and Museum gift shop (see artnet News report). The Port Authority claims similar letters have been and will be addressed to other vendors, so stay tuned for a spike in lawsuits over 9/11 knick-knacks.

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