Defending the Portland Loo

     PORTLAND, Ore. (CN) – Portland, Ore. claims in Federal Court that Romtec violated its trademark and design for the Portland Loo, an award-winning portable toilet big enough to accommodate a bicyclist.
     Defendant Romtec is based in Roseburg, Ore.
     The city claims that the Portland Loo is so finely designed that it “conveys a sense of community ownership.”
     Portland wastes no time getting down to specifics in its complaint: “The City, in the course of providing municipal sanitary services to its residents, invested public funds to create, fabricate, deploy, market, and sell a distinctive public restroom (the ‘Portland Loo’) that has been nationally and internationally recognized for its original and distinctive design.
     “The Portland Loo is a toilet kiosk designed to be located on city sidewalks. Measuring 10’7″ long x 6′ wide x 8’6” tall, the Portland Loo is large enough to be handicap accessible and can accommodate a stroller or bike for the occupant. The Portland Loo is constructed with heavy gauge stainless steel wall panels and is finished with an anti-graffiti powder coating. There is a simple button-activated hand washing station mounted on the exterior to promote shorter use times and to serve the general pedestrian population. Distinctively stripped of much of its plumbing, the Portland Loo can be delivered on site as a complete enclosure. Artwork on the door panel links the Portland Loo to its surroundings and conveys a sense of community ownership. Perhaps the Portland Loo’s most distinctive feature is its louvered slats. Louvers at the top and bottom are specifically angled and dimensioned to facilitate daylighting, ventilation, and natural surveillance by passers by. The design of the Portland Loo has been cited as ingenious in terms of CPTED (Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design). The louvers extend from foot level to knee level and again just above head level, making activity inside somewhat visible to passersby. It is this feature that has largely garnered praise as improving the safety and cleanliness of public restrooms.
     “The Portland Loo was conceived in 2007 after Charles Randall Leonard, one of the City’s former Commissioners, traveled to Italy where he was impressed with the modern, self-cleaning toilets throughout the country. Desiring such an amenity for the sidewalks of urbane Portland, the Commissioner authorized the development of the Portland Loo that included design features that make it distinctively ‘Portland’ and more than merely functional.
     “On December 5, 2007, at a public meeting, then-Commissioner Leonard expounded on the positioning of the louvers and the purposes for the Portland Loo, ‘[y]ou’ll notice on the bottom there are louvers so that they’re angled in such a way you can’t look up, but the police can look down and see how many legs are in there. If there are more than two legs, then the police have reason to be concerned. They’re also designed to be washed from the outside. You’ll notice that underneath they’re open, and the idea is to not make it as private as some restrooms are for security reasons and then also to allow the crews that will clean them to clean them from the outside. So they should be easy to maintain. You’ll notice on the door our designer has incorporated some uniquely Portland features. This one’s a picture of the steel bridge.'”
     The city trademarked and copyrighted its Loo, whose design “resulted in considerable press nationally and internationally,” the complaint states. “The first Portland Loo was installed on December 8, 2008, to enormous media attention.”
     A Portland Loo installed in Victoria, B.C., was designated “The Best Public Restroom in Canada,” and the Loo was the subject of an award-winning 2011 documentary called “The People Can’t Wait.”
     The Portland Loo is believed to be the first, and probably only, public toilet with its own Facebook page.
     Alas! Portland says. Romtec is trying to take a free ride on the Loo. So to speak.
     Portland seeks destruction or delivery of all offending loos, an injunction, disgorgement of unjust profits, an accounting, statutory damages, costs, and damages for trademark and copyright infringement and dilution and unlawful trade.

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