Tulsa Business Owner Feels Bullied By Oklahoma Turnpike Authority

Sunday, August 15th 2010, 6:19 pm
By: News On 6

By Lacie Lowry, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- A Tulsa, Oklahoma business owner says he feels bullied for trying to trademark a business tool he has been using for a decade. He claims that "bully" is the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority.

The owner of Fine Airport Parking, Mike Fine says he has been using the ParkPass logo for ten years. ParkPass is the automated pay system to enter and exit Mike Fine's parking garage without waiting.

"It's our name, we are happy with it, our customers like it, it works, it's our name," said Mike Fine, Fine Airport Parking owner.

Fine says he never had any problems until he signed up for a trademark last March. His only challenger nationwide was the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority.

"For someone in our own backyard to oppose it, who is only doing business in Oklahoma, I found that a bit surprising," said Fine. 

The OTA recently teamed up with the Tulsa Airport Authority to use its PikePass technology for airport parking, on top of its turnpike operations. 

According to the official challenge to Fine's trademark request, the OTA feels the PikePass and ParkPass logos are confusingly similar.

"I think the fact that none of our customers have ever asked how to leave the lot with the PikePass tells me there is no confusion. It's very clear who we are and who they are," Fine said. 

Fine says this process has cost him thousands of dollars and time, and may be completely pointless in the end.

"Even if we don't get our federal registration, our common law rights grant us the right to continue to use the mark as we are currently using," said Chad Hinrichs, Fine's trademark attorney. 

ParkPass lives on. There just isn't a circle with a tiny letter "R" inside at the end of the name. 

The Oklahoma Turnpike Authority refused to comment on anything involving ParkPass. 

The News On 6 decided to check the United States Patent and Trademark Office website and found the OTA applied for a trademark on PikePass for parking lots after opposing the ParkPass trademark.

"To me that's intimidation. It's way over the top. It's bullying and it's not right," said Fine.

Both sides have depositions this week. It could be months before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board make a decision.