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Portland files copyright lawsuit over public bathrooms

Portland claims Romtec Inc.’s Sidewalk Restroom infringes on the city’s copyright

Portland, Ore., wants to flush away the competition in the public bathroom market, and it is now filing a lawsuit to make sure its intellectual property rights are preserved.

The city, which manufactures outdoor bathrooms called the “Portland Loo,” is suing Southern Oregon company Romtec Inc. over its “Sidewalk Restroom.” According to the Associated Press, Portland claims the Sidewalk Restroom infringes on the city’s copyright and is interfering with the company’s efforts to sell its product.

“After the success of the Portland Loo, Romtec now seeks to usurp the urban market with its Sidewalk Restroom, which is an obvious knock-off of the Portland Loo,” the city says in its lawsuit (PDF).

The suit says both outdoor restrooms feature open slats at the top and bottom to let police see how many people are inside, as well as an anti-graffiti coating and an outside hand-washing station to promote shorter use. Portland sells its model for $90,000; the lawsuit claims Romtec sells theirs for “significantly cheaper.”

Portland learned of the Sidewalk Restroom from the Cincinnati, which has been looking into purchasing several Portland Loos. The Cincinnati press has widely covered the city’s negotiations with Portland over the Loo.

According to Romtec’s company website, the company has sold outdoor restrooms to clients such as the U.S. Forest Service, the National Park Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Bureau of Land Management.


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Assistant Editor

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Zach Warren

Zach Warren is Assistant Editor of InsideCounsel magazine, where he oversees online content submissions and administers InsideCounsel's enewsletters. Zach specializes in new media and multimedia...

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