Malibu Pier trade-mark battle goes to court

State Park officials and local citizens are among those subpoenaed in defense of state’s claim to the name.

By Ward Lauren / Special to The Malibu Times

The decision as to the legal ownership and right to use of the name Malibu Pier, which has been the subject of a trial in Federal District court since the first of the month, could be in the hands of the jury today. In a telephone interview at press time Tuesday, Roy Stearns, deputy director of communications for the California Department of Parks and Recreation, said testimony and final presentations could be completed and the case given to the jury by this Thursday.

Jefferson Wagner, owner of Zuma Jay’s surf shop and partner in the company that is contracted as master concessionaire for the pier, was scheduled to testify Tuesday in the trial, held in the Roybal Center in downtown Los Angeles. He was subpoenaed to appear along with Phil Campanella, who managed the pier until 2000 when Wagner became manager. The two were called to give useful background and historical information about the pier on behalf of the defense, in this case the State of California, which claims the right to the name.

Several Department of Parks and Recreation officials, including former Malibu Sector Superintendent Hayden Sohm, were also called to testify. The lawsuit, which has clouded plans and hindered progress for the expansion of commercial operations on the pier for more than a year, resulted from the claim of a private citizen, Stephen Harper of Agoura, that the name is his intellectual property by virtue of a trademark application filed with the U.S. Patent Office.

The state maintains that because the name is attached to a known historical structure, it belongs to the people of the State of California. The state, which has filed a registration of the name Malibu Pier with the secretary of state, and has a federal application pending also, has leased the trademark to Malibu Pier Partners, LLC, the pier’s commercial management organization.

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Earlier this year it was announced that a federal judge would hear the case without oral argument. Then later it was scheduled for a jury trail to begin this month.

Although much of the commercial activity seen for the pier by Malibu Pier Partners, LLC has not yet been fully realized, progress in repair and new construction work has continued on schedule. The pier is now open daily all the way to the end, and its use for fishing and sightseeing has increased steadily throughout the summer, especially during the recent record-breaking heat wave, according to attendance records kept by the management.

Hour-long boat excursions from the pier are available on weekends. Mo’s at the Pier, located just inside the entrance from PCH, provides food service from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and operates a full bar on the patio.

13StarsManager
13StarsManagerhttps://malibutimes.com
The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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