Trademark troubles in surf city

January 5, 2009 7:04:36 PM PST
A heated battle is getting even hotter in the normally laid-back community of Santa Cruz.

It has to with the original Santa Cruz Surfing Club, its logo and trademark.

Last week some of the oldtime surfers discussed how a young man stole their club name and logo. On Monday, the accused fired back.

At a news conference Monday Ryan Rittenhose boldly wore the Santa Cruz Surfing Club apparel at the center of a lawsuit. He refused to answer any questions but adamantly denies accusations filed in a lawsuit last week.

The suit accuses Rittenhouse of tricking one of the original surfing club members, Harry Mayo, into signing over the club name and logo in 2006.

Rittenhouse told ABC7, "At no time was Harry Mayo abused, forced or manipulated to execute the contract and agreement he supported and signed."

The young entrepreneur sells the clothing at surf shops and online, but says he is also interested in preserving Santa Cruz's rich history of surfing. His grandfather was also one of the original 1936 surfing club members. On Monday he sat silently beside his grandson.

"The perception that profit is the only motive couldn't be further from the truth," said Rittenhouse.

Harry Mayo is supported in the lawsuit by a non-profit group called the Santa Cruz Surfing Club Preservation Society. Mayo's home is filled with surfing memorabilia including some photos Rittenhouse now sells online.

Mayo says he merely wants Rittenhouse to contribute to the surfing community as promised.

"I am not going to respond word for word. I am not going to try the whole case in the media. Hopefully we never have to go to court and we can settle outside of court," he said.

The Preservation Society says lawsuit aside, its first priority is to save the Surfing Museum which is scheduled to close February 1st because of city budget cuts.

That may be the only hint the two sides could ride a common wave.

"If the Preservation Society wants to sell our t-shirts to raise money. We would be happy to supply," said Mayo.