Santa Cruz Surf Club fights over logo

January 1, 2009 10:07:58 PM PST
There's another "surf" war being played out in Santa Cruz. It has to do with who owns the rights to the original surfing club name and logo. Now, the controversy is heading to court.

Harry Mayo is 85. He's one of the original members of the Santa Cruz surfing club founded in 1936.

"We were loosely organized to surf and hang around Cowell's," said Mayo.

In his vintage photo, Harry is third from the left. You can buy his picture on the web along with clothing sporting the club logo. The merchandise is sold by Ryan Rittenhouse, the grandson of one of the original club members who visited Mayo in 2006.

"He was a relative to one of our club members and he was from Santa Cruz, so he had two things going for him so I cooperated with him," said Mayo.

A lawsuit filed this week alleges Rittenhouse tricked Mayo into signing over the surfing club name and logo accusing him of everything from trademark infringement to elder abuse.

Ryan Rittenhouse declined an on camera interview, but late today issued a statement condemning the lawsuit calling the accusations false and insisting he has always been interested in preserving and protecting the memorabilia and history of the original Santa Cruz Surfing Club.

Old time surfers say the bitter battle over the logo is all about saving the Surfing Museum. Unless someone steps forward city budget cuts are forcing the museum to close on February 1, 2009.

Members of the original surfing club say logo merchandise can easily bring in the $20,000 a year needed to support the Santa Cruz landmark, which is all the club ever wanted.

"Any money they ever made off the tee shirt and their name, they've given back as charitable contributions to the community of Santa Cruz," said Dan Young, the surfing museum co-founder.

City leaders say Rittenhouse has also offered to run the museum, but that proposal is not being well received.

"I think it's unlikely that we would go with that private business that would anger every surfer in Santa Cruz. I'm not really likely to go there," said Mike Rotkin, the Santa Cruz vice mayor.

Today the surf is not up in Santa Cruz, but the waters are anything but calm.

"I hope it doesn't go to court. I hope we can come to some kind of an understanding. That's my hope," said Mayo.

Read Ryan Rittenhouse's response here

Read Karina Rusk's Back Story here