Wednesday, August 12, 2009
As if the New York Fringe Festival didn’t have a bad enough reputation already, it gets this years, Bully Award once again for basically telling the Long Island Fringe Festival that it couldn’t use the name “Fringe” in it’s festival name.
I guess having Brooklyn and Ellis Island, isn’t enough, they have to have the word fringe too? Warning to all you other fringes out there who may get a cease and desist warning in the future- you’ve been warned.
Here’s a letter that the good peeps in charge of the LI fringe sent to The New York City International Fringe Festival
We would like to take this opportunity to address issues which have been brought to our attention. The New York City International Fringe Festival has managed to get a service mark, the equivalent of a trademark, on the words “Fringe Festival” in the state of New York. This is the equivalent of service marking the words “Pet Shop”, “Bakery” or “Drug Store”, generic phrases used to describe a type of service.
Well, our friends at the NYCIFF have decided that we are confusing people by referring to ourselves as the Long Island Fringe Festival and have demanded that we stop immediately or face legal action.
First of all, if they had actually looked closely, they would have known that the name of the festival is “Fringe 2009 - Experience Long Island”. While it is true that we are the first Long Island Fringe Festival, that is just what we are and that cannot be ruled on in a court of law, it is just a fact.
When we started to put together the festival in September of 2008, it was meant to be a tribute and a celebration of the long and proud tradition of Fringe, an event that started in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1947 at the first International Performance Festival, not on New York City in 1992, and is now an annual event celebrated by 100’s of Fringe Festivals world wide.
If anyone should be allowed to lay claim to the words fringe festival, Edinburgh should be in front of the line with no one behind them. In the true spirit of theatrical collegiality, however, they have let this celebration of creative arts expand and encircle the globe with the spirit and name Fringe Festival. This is what the original fringers had set out to do, entertain and enlighten the general public with a wide range of creative talent assembled into a Fringe Festival.
With an abundance of dancers, musicians, poets, playwrights, visual artists and more on Long Island and around the world, it seems that the more opportunities there are to showcase these people the better. Unfortunately The Present Co., organizers of the NYCIFF, believes that they are the only one who should be allowed to be called a “Fringe Festival”.
May I also add that this seems to be a selective enforcement as no other fringe festival in New York has been told to stop other than the Long Island Fringe. It is also strange that instead of trying to contact us and discuss their concerns, they instead went directly to a lawyer and decided to threaten a lawsuit.
The organizers of Fringe 2009 are not difficult to find. Our names, phone numbers and e mail address are public knowledge and are posted on many websites. So it makes us wonder how a little first year festival could cause such a problem for a well established event such as the New York City International Fringe Festival.
To anyone out there who was confused we apologize. Fringe 2009 is in no way connected to the NYCIFF and we definitely want that to be clear. We are our own festival of Fringe, the first on Long Island, and we are proud to have done this and for that we offer no apology.
“Fringe 2009 - Experience Long Island”