January 23, 2015

Anchor Weighs Anchor and Drifts Off to Where the Good Bars Go.

News came earlier this month that one of the beloved trademarks at my alma mater is suddenly out of use. That is the result of the closing of the Anchor Bar (or Anchor "Restaurant," as the sign would have it), which until just recently had operated continuously on College Street in New Havensince the 1940's.

Anchor Bar2

This bar seemed to have a lot going for it. I'm an aficionado of cool neon signs, and the Anchor had one of those, as you can see in this photo above. (If that stupid van weren't parked there, you could also see the full splendor of the curved window and blue deco storefront). Esquire magazine listed the Anchor among its 25 Best Bars in America- http://www.esquire.com/blogs/food-for-men/best-bars-in-america-2014#slide-22 * The owner says that Thornton Wilder was a regular back in the day. Judge and Resident Expert John Hodgman laments the closing: http://www.johnhodgman.com/post/107247524608/uber-roadrunner-the-anchor-and-little-petes And there are worse locations for a bar than half a block from a college campus.

Sad as the closure might be, it also raises the issue of abandonment of what might be a valuable trademark. Reports are that the Anchor closed because its manager was regularly failing to pay the rent, and when that happens the landlord eventually runs out of patience. The owner is quoted in the press saying that he doesn't have any interest in trying to revive it â it was his father's bar, and he and the rest of the family are ready to move on.

If you own a trademark, it's not necessarily the best idea to declare immediately upon closing that the whole thing is kaput, finished. When a mark is "abandoned," it becomes available for someone else to use â although it has been observed that it's not like fumbling a football, where it immediately becomes available. Part of abandonment is stopping use of the mark with an intent not to resume use. And when your bar closes and you say "we're done," that seems like a pretty good indication of an intent not to resume. As with many things in trademark law, there's not necessarily any one bright line that identifies when a mark is abandoned â part of abandonment is the dissipation of the goodwill in the mark, and the public may still associate the mark with the provider (or otherwise keep that goodwill alive) for a long time after the use has stopped. I'm sure many far-flung alumni will long hold the Anchor in their hearts â bright college years and all that â and of course the same goes forNew Haven residents. Perhaps that goodwill will live on for a long time, and the owner can transfer it to someone else who might like to give it a go.

Many of us no doubt hope that the Anchor will rise again. It doesn't even have to be in the same spot, but it would be best if that neon could have a second life.

For more reading on the subject, consult your friend Google, but you could start here: http://www.nhregister.com/lifestyle/20150105/new-havens-anchor-bar-gone-yale-properties-seeking-new-tenant

While we're on the subject of not paying rent and bars, see what George Thorogood has to say about it:

* I'm about 99% sure that the photo with the Esquire article is a stock photo and has nothing to do with the Anchor. It wasn't that kind of bar.