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Metro Transit Authority orders local clerks cease and desist use of slogan

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Posted at 4:17 PM, Dec 10, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-10 17:44:12-05

BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) — A potential trademark infringement case is brewing between the Erie County Clerk, and the agency that runs the New York City transit system.

"If you see something, say something."

It's a phrase we've come to know in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attack.

Erie County Clerk MichaelKearns is using the phrase on signs posted in local DMV offices.

This is in response to Kearns' objections to the state's new Green Light Law, which allows immigrants to apply for a driver's license.

Kearns fought the new law in court and lost.

It turns out the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, or MTA, has a trademark on the phrase, "If you see something, say something."

The slogan's intention is to report suspicions of terrorism.

The MTA licenses the phrase to other law enforcement agencies with the same intention.

MTA officials sent a cease and desist order to the Erie County Clerk Tuesday afternoon.

They gave Kearns' office until 5 p.m. to remove all the signs, and in a statement released said that any request to use the slogan in the future would be denied.

"The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) today ordered Erie County Clerk Michael Kearns to immediately cease and desist from the abhorrent use of the MTA’s trademarked slogan, 'if you see something, say something.' Clerk Kearns is using the phrase to ask members of the public to report suspected undocumented immigrants to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The MTA has given County Clerk Kearns until 5:00 p.m. EST to remove all signs using this slogan."

A similar letter was sent to the Niagara County Clerk's Office for its use of the slogan as well.