A young downtown Waco company will revamp a fairly new mural after the business and a former freelance graphic designer separately filed trademark documents for the saying “Waco Feels Like Home.”
Word made way to Boston shortly after a brightly colored mural depicting the Waco Hippodrome, the Magnolia Silos, the ALICO building and the phrase “Waco Feels Like Home” was painted across the back portion of The Findery, which opened a year ago in the former Percy Medicine building at South Eighth Street and Webster Avenue.
Mark Rockwell, who moved to Boston in September, had lived in Waco since 2005 and recently started receiving calls inquiring if he’d engaged in another Waco project.
He had not.
Rockwell said he quit his job in 2012 to begin freelancing and, without a steady income and in an effort to raise money for a mission trip, he began making and selling shirts that read: “Waco Feels Like Home,” which can still be purchased at wacofeelslikehome.com.
So Rockwell said he was surprised and hurt to see his phrase lifted for another business’ use without credit.
But it wasn’t until after the mural at The Findery was complete that officials at the downtown antiques and home decor store realized someone else laid claim to the phrase, said Shelby Pipken, with Four Columns Marketing, which represents The Findery.
Pipken said the company wanted a piece of art that connected various significant parts of Waco. She said her company designed the mural, and did a trademark and copyright search with legal counsel for the phrase, finding no ownership, and then proceeded. Within a week, the mural was designed, painted and revealed, she said.
That’s when Rockwell reached out, Pipken said.
“We feel it’s unfortunate, the way he’s reacted,” she said.
Pipken said the company offered Rockwell credit for the phrase on the mural and offered to promote his website, but said they have yet to hear a response. Regardless, as of Wednesday the company agreed to paint over the portion of the mural that says “Waco Feels Like Home,” she said.
“It’s not worth the fight to us,” she said.
But the fight is ongoing for Rockwell.
Rockwell disputed Pipken’s claim that he was offered credit on the mural, saying that he repeatedly asked for it to be included on the mural, and also said he asked that The Findery stop selling products with the phrase.
Since the mural went up, Rockwell said, he has connected with many local artists who have shared similar stories of larger companies taking credit for their work. Rockwell said it’s important to stand up and fight for one’s work, talents and creations.
Small-town creative types deserve to be recognized and paid for their talents, and larger companies need to be aware they can’t get away with stealing ideas, he said.
“If you rip off one of us, word travels to all of the others and we won’t continue to work with you. I don’t know if people in Waco realize how small it is,” Rockwell said. “It’s not large enough to burn bridges or take from people that are trying to build a community also.”
Both parties this week took to social media to air their takes on the situation, with both Pipken and Rockwell claiming the other failed to work out the situation, and both saying they have filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office for ownership of the phrase.
Pipken said Thursday it is her understanding The Findery will drop the trademark fight and will file another trademark claim on the soon-to-be-new mural design. The phrase that will be added to replace “Waco Feels Like Home” has not be finalized, she said.
“We’ve tried to cooperate (with Rockwell), but it was taken from a really peaceful and, honestly, kind cooperation to, pretty much overnight, just mean,” she said.
Pipken referred to an Instagram account mocking The Findery which dubbed itself “The Blindery Waco” and has posted fake pictures insulting the downtown business.
“Our heart in this piece was just really to make something on this wall, this blank wall, that people could love and it could be appreciated by both Wacoans and people (from) outside Waco that are just visiting,” she said.
Rockwell said he had nothing to do with the vulgar Instagram postings and tried contacting the owner to ask them to remove the account.
Overall, Rockwell said, all he ever wanted was credit for the phrase and for The Findery to stop selling products with the phrase on it.
Pipken said work will begin Tuesday to change The Findery’s mural.
She said products with images of the mural were only sold for a few days and were pulled off the shelves when Rockwell called.
“We’re not here to fight with other people in our own small city,” she said.