Local fans aren't happy.

In Worcester, Massachusetts, a diner called Miss Worcester sits that serves any and all who ride through. It’s so popular with Harley enthusiasts that local artist Tony Freitas painted a mural with the Harley-Davidson bar and shield outside it about three years ago. Now, the Motor Company has earned the ire of some of its most loyal fans by asking Miss Worcester to take it down.

“While Harley-Davidson truly appreciates your enthusiasm for the brand, I hope you can understand that we must be diligent in protecting our trademark rights, including the policing of unauthorized use,” Harley-Davidson’s Brand Protection legal team wrote in its cease-and-desist letter.

“Given the popularity and strength of the Harley-Davidson brand, we often run into enthusiasts such as yourself who utilize our Marks in their commercial endeavors, however, by using our trademark on the exterior, public-facing portion of your business, you have created the impression that there is an affiliation or other relationship with Harley-Davidson when no such relationship exists. While I do not believe that any wrongdoing was purposeful, if we were to allow this type of use to continue, we would risk losing the value of our trademarks, and we want the Harley-Davidson brand to remain strong for years to come.” 

Gallery: Harley Mural At Miss Worcester Diner

The letter went on to request the removal of the logo from Freitas’ mural on the outside of the Miss Worcester diner and asked that owner Kim Kniskern either call or email to acknowledge that she would be removing it. The Worcester Heritage Society started a petition to show support for Miss Worcester, and what it feels is an extremely unfair move by Harley-Davidson against its loyal local fans, which is up to over 2,700 signatures at the time of writing. 

I’m certainly no lawyer, but the letter above makes it seem like the placement is, in part, the problem. Go to any ‘50s-style diner and you’ll see all kinds of car logos all over the walls inside, via the vintage signs, murals, and other artwork that frequently adorns that style of restaurant. Would this have been such an issue if the artwork was inside the building, instead of on the outside? It’s not clear. 

What is clear is that Knistern, Freitas, and the local community feel like Harley is being a bully to some of its most loyal fans, who spend a lot of money on Harley products. Meanwhile, Harley feels like it’s protecting its trademark—and certainly isn’t the first company to do so. 

What do you think?

Photos: Tony Freitas on Facebook

Sources: Worcester Telegram, Fast Company, CBS Boston

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