Intellectual Property Law

Portland raises stink over its public potty design, sues for infringement

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Portland Loo.


The Sidewalk Restroom.

The city of Portland—which sports stylish 24/7 flush toilets dubbed “Portland Loos“—isn’t happy to see a Southern Oregon company seemingly take a page from its design book.

In a copyright infringement lawsuit filed this week, Portland claims The Sidewalk Restroom sold by Romtec Inc. looks too similar to the Portland Loo, according to the Oregonian and the Associated Press.

Portland says Romtec, based in Roseburg, infringed on the city’s copyright of the public facilities and is interfering with its efforts to sell the Loo to other cities.

Portland sells each of its restrooms for $90,000, while the price of the Romtec version is $38,500, Willamette Week reports. The publication reported that Cincinnati broke off negotiations with Portland after discovering Romtec’s Sidewalk Restroom.

The restrooms sport steel walls and public safety features, such as open slats at the top and bottom so police can see how many people are inside. There’s an anti-graffiti coating on all surfaces.

“After the success of the Portland Loo, Romtec now seeks to usurp the urban market with its Sidewalk Restroom, which is an obvious knockoff of the Portland Loo,” the city asserts in the suit (PDF), a copy of which was posted by Willamette Week.

A former Portland commissioner registered the Loo’s copyright in 2008.

Hat tip: Rebecca Tushnet’s 43(B)log.

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