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'5Pointz' Developers Who Razed Art Mecca Can Use Name for High Rise: State

By Jeanmarie Evelly | September 11, 2015 4:36pm | Updated on September 14, 2015 8:39am
 Tourists at graffiti arts center 5 Pointz in Long Island City.
Tourists at graffiti arts center 5 Pointz in Long Island City.
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DNAinfo/Jeanmarie Evelly

LONG ISLAND CITY — A developer building high rises at the former 5Pointz site dropped its federal bid to trademark the famed name, but successfully registered it with the state so it can use it on its future apartment towers.

"The bottom line is, we're going to use the name 5Pointz on my buildings," said Jerry Wolkoff, an owner of the developer company G&M Realty.

G&M Realty, which owns the block of former graffiti-covered warehouses — demolished earlier this year to make way for two new buildings — had applied to register the name "5Pointz" with the United States Patent and Trademark Office last year.

The move drew the ire of the artists who used to paint at the Long Island City site and tourist attraction, who accused the developer of "trying to capitalize" on their work, and started a petition in hopes of blocking the trademarking attempt.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office turned down G&M Realty's bid to register the name, saying it was too similar to another real estate company's moniker. The application was deemed "abandoned" last month after G&M Realty failed to appeal the decision before its deadline, records show.

Wolkoff told DNAinfo Thursday they'd dropped the effort to get a federal trademark because it was "too much of a hassle," and registered the name "5Pointz" with the state of New York instead.

The State's Department of Records confirmed it approved a servicemark for "5Pointz" for G&M Realty, which was filed on July 6. A servicemark is similar to a trademark, except that it refers to an entity that provides a service — like a real estate agency — while a trademark applies to companies that provide a product.

"We registered it in the New York area," Wolkoff said, saying he plans to refer to his future development at the fomer graffiti complex as "5Pointz," a name he's contended refers to the site itself as opposed to the artists who once painted there.

Wolkoff has said repeatedly that he plans to invite street artists back to paint at the site once construction is complete, and that the apartment towers he's building there will include artists' studios and walls for artwork.

The developer had allowed graffiti artists to paint on the former warehouses for years, and the buildings became a major attraction in the neighborhood, but his decision to tear down the properties drew backlash from artists and fans of the site.

5Pointz artists are also suing G&M Realty to get compensation for the artwork that was painted over when Wolkoff decided to whitewash the buildings overnight in 2013.