A new opinion from the state Attorney General says a company cannot trademark a roadway, such as M-22 or M-119 in Harbor Springs. M-119 is known for its tunnel of trees.
State Lawmaker Frank Foster, R-Pellston, sought the opinion.
“We’ve got some local small businesses that would like to sell these tourist t-shirts, coffee mugs, whatever have you, that were unable to do that because of these attorneys that were trying to trademark public domain,” Foster says.
But the attorney for the M-22 company in Traverse City and Glen Arbor says the attorney general’s opinion is bad for that business. It was built by a couple brothers from northern Michigan and holds several trademarks for M-22. He says, despite the opinion, the business will sue if people infringe on its federal trademarks.
“The M-22 company that has been created over the last many years that, of course, people want to copy and ride the coat tails of because of its success, is the only company that actually gets to use M-22 as a brand,” says Attorney Enrico Schaefer.
Schaefer says the attorney general’s opinion is trumped by federal law.
Attorney general opinions are considered the rule of law in Michigan, unless challenged in court.