Segs in the City: No Choos, Just Wheels

Segs in the City: Would you confuse these tourists with Manhattan stylistas?
Segs in the City: Would you confuse these tourists with Manhattan stylistas? (Hunter Wilson - )

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By Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts
Friday, June 6, 2008

What do a pack of cougars in couture roaming the hot spots of Manhattan have in common with a pack of tourists in helmets rolling around the monuments of D.C.? Someday a judge may have to decide; for now, HBO has simply sent a polite letter to Bill Main demanding he change the name and logo of his Segway tour company, Segs in the City.

"They consider that we are wrongfully infringing on their trademark," Main told us yesterday -- referring, of course, to "Sex and the City," the HBO series turned movie, which has earned more than $73 million since opening last week. Main has operated his Segway tour company -- offering jaunts through D.C., Annapolis, Baltimore and Gettysburg -- for about five years, and he seems to have known what he was doing when he picked the punning name, the swank typeface and pink logo. (The Baltimore Sun first reported HBO's action.)

His argument? "People understand the parody of it all." And he's not budging yet. "That name is very well known. It describes exactly what we do, and I frankly don't think they have any right at all."

Well . . . they might. Chris Ott, a trademark lawyer not involved in the matter, says that while a small-time business may seem to pose no threat to a Hollywood juggernaut, HBO has reason to be on guard. "They've poured a ton of money into promoting this as a brand," said Ott, of Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease. "Once you start using the same font, the same colors, you're edging closer to just copying their mark. As soon as one person makes a play on it, your trademark becomes meaningless."

HBO spokesman Jeff Cusson would only confirm that "we do take steps to protect the trademarks of our programs." (Are they going after the Pets and the City, Kix and the City, Text and the City or any of the other similarly named businesses we found on the Web? Cusson wouldn't say.)

Keeping It Real at the Museum of Crime and Punishment

Kinky stuff at the crime museum! The 250 pairs of real handcuffs that hang throughout the National Museum of Crime and Punishment -- the newest addition to downtown's tourist-trap district -- are just meant as decorations. Before the place opened two weeks ago, staff rigged them so that they won't shut on anyone's wrist. Well, they missed a pair: On Saturday, an unidentified woman touring the "police booking room" exhibit with her husband and two kids couldn't help but try them out -- and accidentally cuffed herself. (Oh, mom !)

The family appeared to get a kick out of the incident -- everyone was laughing and taking photos, a witness told us, until a staffer came by to set her free. "The museum is designed to be interactive," said Chief Operating Officer Janine Vaccarello. "We have many people floating around with the handcuff keys, just in case."

Hey, Isn't That . . . ?

· Kathleen Turner catching Wednesday night's staging of "The Visit" at Signature Theatre in Arlington. Went incognito in stretch jeans, long black sweater, little makeup, but That Voice gave her away when she ordered something at the bar at intermission. Went backstage later to visit with Chita Rivera. The stage-screen star is in town to promote her new tell-all book "Send Yourself Roses" (yes, the one Nicolas Cage sued her over).

· Mariane Pearl dining Wednesday at the bar at Nora -- hair up in the usual high ponytail, beautifully pedicured red toenails. Had jetted over from Paris to be honored last night at the Internews Media Leadership Awards at the Newseum ( Ted Leonsis being another honoree). Had the halibut and sparkling water.

Quoted

"I was seduced by his physique, his charm and his intelligence. He has five or six brains, which are remarkably irrigated."

-- Carla Bruni on her new husband, French President Nicolas Sarkozy. The supermodel/pop singer turned first lady dished to two journalists for their new book "Carla and Nicolas, the True Story," which details the 80-day whirlwind romance culminating in their February wedding.


© 2008 The Washington Post Company

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