Our 2014 Fredericksburg Business Insider sponsors
|Click here for information on sponsorships|
Lindley Estes is a business writer for The Free Lance-Star and Fredericksburg.com. This blog is on Fredericksburg-area business. Send an e-mail to Lindley Estes.
Who owns the name ‘Moss Neck’?
Two adjacent landowners in Caroline County disagree about who owns the rights to the name “Moss Neck,” or whether anyone does.
The matter is between Larry Silver, CEO of the Silver Cos. real estate development and investment firm, and Gil and Judy Shelton.
The Sheltons own a 280-acre property off the south side of U.S. 17 in Caroline that includes the historic Moss Neck Manor home. Silver, through an entity called Moss Neck Manor Plantation Inc., owns an adjacent 1,209-acre property.
The Silver Cos. wants to build a small, high-end resort on its land and also mine the property for sand and gravel. The company does not yet have permission from Caroline to build the resort or mine the land.
Larry Silver wrote in an email that plans call for “Moss Neck” being used in the name of the resort.
Gil Shelton wrote in an email to a Free Lance-Star reporter last month that he and his wife own the trademark rights to the name “Moss Neck,” and that the name can’t be used for any commercial purpose without their approval.
The Silver Cos. disagrees. This week an attorney for the New York-based law firm Pearl Cohen Zedek Latzer LLP sent a letter to the Sheltons on behalf of Moss Neck Manor Plantation Inc. disagreeing with Shelton’s comments to the newspaper.
The letter states that Moss Neck is a “geographic and historical locale,” and hence no single party is entitled to exclusive rights to the name. The letter asks for an amicable resolution that would allow both parties to use the name “Moss Neck.”
Shelton declined to comment on the letter, calling it a private legal matter.
According to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s website, the Sheltons did have a trademark on the Moss Neck name, but it was cancelled in August 2011. The Sheltons filed another request for the trademark in October 2011, according to the website, but the USPTO did not approve it.
The USPTO notes that applicants are able to appeal decisions or request a reconsideration.