Leisure World name change would come at a cost, manager says

March 30, 2011

Leisure World in Silver Spring would have to spend $142,000 to change its name on golf carts, signs and other items in the “active adult” community if residents drop the name rather than pay a licensing fee to continue using it, the community’s general manager has told its board of directors.

Leisure World’s 35-member board will vote on the name issue in April or May after hearing whether residents think changing it is worth the cost, board chairman Marian Altman said. Of 2,895 Leisure World residents who responded to a board survey in December, 60 percent favored changing the name and 32 percent wanted to keep it. The board asked for the cost estimate after the survey.

The legal issue regarding use of the Leisure World name and the globe symbol surfaced in late 2009 when Heidi Cortese, the daughter of Leisure World’s initial developer, notified the board that her California-based company, RRLH, holds the 1966 trademark registrations to the name and the globe design. Cortese initially proposed charging a $6,000 monthly fee to continue using the name and the globe but later lowered it to $1 annually for 30 years.

Cortese said she needed to charge something or risk losing her trademark protection. The community’s board has said that the licensing agreement that she offered included “constraints that could be expensive.”

Leisure World’s general manager, Kevin Flannery, told the board Tuesday that his $142,000 cost estimate would cover changing the name on items such as signs, vehicles, staff uniforms, legal papers, bank accounts, brochures and stationery. The estimate did not include costs for discontinuing use of the globe symbol, he said.

The 610-acre community off Georgia Avenue, which has been a Montgomery County fixture for 44 years, has 8,500 residents age 55 and older.

Katherine Shaver is a transportation and development reporter. She joined The Washington Post in 1997 and has covered crime, courts, education and local government but most prefers writing about how people get — or don’t get — around the Washington region.
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