I always thought opening this type of restaurant would be a great idea.
June 30, 2001 1:26 AM   Subscribe

I always thought opening this type of restaurant would be a great idea. Fish and Chips in NYC is pure genius. Ripping off the Underground logo was a bit naughty, but this story certainly raised my eyebrows as to how some public transport systems regard their logos as brands outside of their home market. (more)
posted by davehat (16 comments total)
I say systems in the plural, as I have often seen people wearing T-Shirts emblazoned with the A-train symbols of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

I was horrified to read in the news piece that there is a London Underground restaurant already in existence. I mean, what's on the menu? Incidentally, can you imagine what an MTA restaurant would offer?


As the article quite rightly points out, no one who uses the tube regularly would EVER be seen wearing a T-Shirt with the Underground logo on it. I presume the same would be said for New Yorkers and F-train T-Shirts.

On second thoughts, I might consider having one that says "I survived the Northern Line"
posted by davehat at 1:38 AM on June 30, 2001

Not the point, but any european readers wanna fill me in on where a deep-fried Mars bar falls on the vomit meter? I have cousins in Scotland who tried to describe it to me once, but I thought they were kidding.
posted by dong_resin at 3:09 AM on June 30, 2001

Deep Fried Mars Bars taste of



imagine sugar only more,throw in a bit of iron filings and top with lard.

You don't really eat them, you experience them.
posted by fullerine at 4:58 AM on June 30, 2001

posted by dong_resin at 5:40 AM on June 30, 2001

This is such BS. For years there was a very popular Manhattan nightclub called The Underground, which used the same logo. Nobody that spent more than 12 hours in NYC could have avoided seeing some sort of ad for it in its heyday, so there's no way the real London Underground couldn't have known about it. Yet they did nothing. Now they want to go after some tiny little hole-in-the-wall restaurant?

I'm also amused that The Guardian inexplicably decided to include a link to the NYC cable company web site at the end of that article. It's so random.
posted by aaron at 8:29 AM on June 30, 2001

(mmmmmm...unprocessed fishsticks...) uttered upon seeing a bowlful of live goldfish)
posted by davidmsc at 8:46 AM on June 30, 2001

Waterloo Records has used the same logo for years too. I understand the restaurant not wanting to spend money fighting for it, but it seems that they have been kind of unfairly and randomly singled out. Besides that, do they really think someone is going to see that sign in NYC and go in thinking they can hop on a train to Picadilly? I don't see much room for consumer confusion here.
posted by spilon at 8:56 AM on June 30, 2001

Next up, a NYC Bangers and Mash restaurant with spokesperson Samantha Fox...
posted by machaus at 9:09 AM on June 30, 2001

There's a plumbing company in the Bay Area that ripped the logo too. We jokingly say "Mind the Plumbing Gap" whenever we see one of their trucks.
posted by mathowie at 9:25 AM on June 30, 2001

aaron: it's probably something to do with London Transport's fairly recent attempt to capitalise on the iconic status of its brand. And once you start selling official "Mind the Gap" t-shirts, you start to take seriously the legal requirement to protect the trademark abroad.

(It's only very recently that you could buy a digital version of the New Underground font: it's that precious a commodity. Though there have been plenty of knock-offs of Johnston's original.)

Also, New York is a much closer place these days, thanks to cheap air-fares and the popularity of transatlantic shopping/clubbing weekends. The web also makes a difference: what might have surreptitiously graced a flyer or a menu now appears on a website, and that alerts a legal team on the other side of the world. Twenty years ago, you could have got away with it; not now.
posted by holgate at 9:39 AM on June 30, 2001

What makes me laugh is that I had a cherished London Underground t-shirt in early eighties, which perfectly combined my Anglophilia and love-of-maps (anybody know the word for that?). In my junior high school, this was the antithesis of cool and marked me as a Dr.-Who-watching geekboy. Who knew I was a trendsetting brand pioneer for the Tube people?

I live around the corner from the fishnchips place in Brooklyn. Friends who have never ordered fried anything at a restaurant in their adult lives rave about the place. That means either that it's terrific, or that the power of trends is irresistable.

holgate's right -- we've entered the brave new world of international trademark surveillance. Maybe the answer for small businesses will be counterintuitive: secret logos, carefully distributed by hand, sheltered from the prying gaze of corporate legal depts.
posted by BT at 10:05 AM on June 30, 2001

aaron: Just to add to what holgate said, and to pick up a small part of the article, it appears that, having realised that they should register their logo in the US, it then took them three years more to do so. I have a feeling that the reason this restaurant is being persued is because they can now do so easily under US law.

I agree with your sentiment though. I mean, the Underground sign/logo is both ubiquitous and very old. To persue this small venture that's offering what I'd say was a very needed service in New York seems rather petty. This is all the more so due to the fact that this is a public company in the UK, ie, it is maintained by tax payers money.

I guess the main point of my post, after the fact that I realised I missed out on a great business opportunity, is that I really don't like the idea of the London Underground being a Brand.

It is so obvious that this is what the underground is being positioned as, since the closing down and threatening of companies that have utilised their iconic logo are now seen not as promoting London, but of diluting the Underground brand.

Furthermore, it is rather amusing that this seems to be happening at exactly the same time as the company is being 'part privatised' (yup, an oxymoronic expression indeed).

Right now I'm waiting for Naomi Klein to write a new book called 'No Loco'.
posted by davehat at 10:16 AM on June 30, 2001

Friends who have never ordered fried anything at a restaurant in their adult lives

There are such people? In America? And you know enough of them to use the plural? Wow.
posted by kindall at 12:13 PM on June 30, 2001

holgate is right. the roundel, typeface and lu map have all been given to the superb London Transport Museum in Covent Garden. These are its main means of support, so anything that isn't paying them a licence fee is costing them significant ammounts of money. Also remember, if you don't support a trademark then I believe (though am willing to be corrected) that you lose it - with obvious revenue implications. With the LT website doing mail order via the net to anywhere you can't complain too much.

favourite item of LU merchandise - LU Map Nokia 3210 phone cover. it's lovely.

oh, and they've updated maost of the t-shirts so they now have witty/cheeky/normal tag lines - MeFi style. Eg:

"Angel" station t-shirt.

"Wapping" (pronounced 'whopping') station boxer shorts

Oh, and they have the best line in posters around. It's well worth a look to see some of them:

This one especially is great.

Oh, and I have a framed LU map on my wall and I think it looks cool, so there! :-]
posted by nedrichards at 4:05 PM on June 30, 2001

Holgate: It's only very recently that you could buy a digital version of the New Underground font

Really? Cool. Who sells it? I bought the original Johnston font from P22 but I haven't seen New Johnston anywhere. I'd love to add it to my collection.
posted by Monk at 11:59 PM on June 30, 2001

BT: What makes me laugh is that I had a cherished London Underground t-shirt in early eighties, which perfectly combined my Anglophilia and love-of-maps (anybody know the word for that?).

Cartophile? Cartographile? (that may be more "one who loves mapmakers," which could be true).

I used to wear a "Mind the Gap" shirt in the 80's and these silly Americans thought it was a shirt about The Gap.
posted by witchstone at 11:22 AM on July 2, 2001

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