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Apr 9, 2019 9:35 AMPublication: The East Hampton Press

East Hampton Settles 'Ditch Plains' Trademark Case

Apr 9, 2019 1:20 PM

Montauk shopkeepers will be able to continue to sell “Ditch Plains” T-shirts thanks to a recent settlement between East Hampton Town and a Hauppauge apparel company.

Seena International in 2013 applied for a trademark on “Ditch Plains,” the two words describing a popular and somewhat trendy surf spot in Montauk. If Seena had been granted the trademark, it could have blocked local stores from selling souvenir apparel, like sweatshirts, hoodies and T-shirts, emblazoned with the words “Ditch Plains.”

After Montauk merchants got wind of the trademark application, the town filed an objection. But Seena had another trademark issue to resolve first, according to John Jilnicki, the town attorney who was involved at the time in trying to block the trademark. Once the town’s trademark case started up, Ted Weitz, an attorney specializing in trademark law, was retained.

Mr. Weitz said this week that the matter has been settled “in a way that I think accomplished what the town wanted.” Basically, the town won’t try to prevent Seena from getting the trademark, but Seena won’t try to prevent East End stores from selling clothing that says “Ditch Plains.” Some sales outside the local area also will be allowed.

The East Hampton Town Board agreed to approve the settlement at its March 21 meeting, and Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc signed it on April 1.

In the interim, Bill Mavro, who’s owned Montauk Clothing Company on Montauk’s Main Street for 27 years, said he hadn’t been overly concerned.

“I kind of thought it was over with,” he said Monday, noting that it would be “really bad press” for Seena to try to prevent merchants from selling “Ditch Plains” clothing in the beach’s hometown.

Some people argue that “Ditch Plain” is actually more geographically accurate than “Ditch Plains” anyway, Mr. Mavro observed.

“I could always just change it,” he said. “Like I said, drop the ‘s.’”

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