Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 2001/06/15

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Subject: [Leica] Re: Lone Cypress trademard
From: Jim Brick <>
Date: Fri, 15 Jun 2001 08:25:35 -0700
References: <>

At 10:04 AM 6/15/01 -0400, Rob McElroy wrote:
>For All,
>Then comes the issue of the famous Lone Cypress tree that sits out on the 
>rocks off the coast of Northern California on the beautiful 17-Mile Drive in
>the Carmel / Monterey area. It is a very popular tourist destination and the 
>tree has been photographed by virtually every visitor with a camera that
>has seen it in the past 100 years.  You must pay a fee to drive down this 
>beautiful stretch of coastline dotted with expensive homes, picturesque
>views, the Pebble Beach golf course, etc.  The tree is now protected from 
>being photographed by professional photographers who plan to sell or
>distribute the image of Mother Nature's beautiful lone cypress.  I doubt 
>whether the owner of the land/rocks the tree sits on was able to secure a
>legally enforceable copyright (it is after all, not a creative work created 
>by man, although maybe Mother Nature could claim a copyright on it.)  I do
>believe the symbol of the tree is now trademarked though, and there was some 
>heated discussion about this a few years ago when photographers using a
>tripod were prohibited from photographing it because of "trademark and/or 
>copyright laws."  I believe the restriction is still being enforced but I
>don't think it has ever been challenged in court.
>Rob McElroy
>Buffalo, NY

I live and photograph out here in Lone Cypress land. I photographed the
Lone Cypress in 1989 for use in our regional books. I use it as the cover
of one of our books.

We were threatened legal action by Pebble Beach who used some big name law
firm in Washington DC to send me "we're going to clean you out because you
are infringing our trademark."

I immediately learned everything I could about trademark and did a
trademark search on the Lone Cypress and all derivations. Nada! And in
there ad's, they use "Lone Cypress  " which, of course, is illegal. You
cannot claim a "registered" trademark when you actually don't have one.
None were applied for, and their original application was "abandoned."

I gave the threats over to the ASMP legal council who did all of my
answering for me. Basically the ASMP told Pebble Beach to "go pound sand."
Whether or not PB was actually going to take it to court was based on the
R&R HOF case. Had Chuck Gentile lost, PB would probably have pursued it.
But Chuck won and PB went away. And PB has since been purchased back from
the Japanese by Clint Eastwood and friends. It is now a more friendly place.

During the time when all artists were hassled, the local folks (Monterey
Peninsula) hated PB and did not patronize them. This is bad publicity. Bad
publicity spreads fast. I think Clint and friends know this.

The reason they won't let you take "professional" photographs of the Lone
Cypress is because that is the only way they have of protecting it. It is
private property and they can control all uses of the property. But they
cannot keep artists from using photographs, drawings, etc of the rock and
tree, in saleable artwork.

A lot of the PB restrictions I feel are left over from the previous owners.


Replies: Reply from Rob McElroy <> (Re: [Leica] Re: Lone Cypress trademark)
In reply to: Message from "Austin Franklin" <> (RE: [Leica] Re: Copyright questions)