HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. — “Surf City USA” is officially in Southern California, according to a federal agency that granted this town exclusive trademark rights despite challenges from northern rival Santa Cruz.
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office awarded Huntington Beach three official registration numbers that permit it to use the designation “Surf City USA” in ads, on beach bags, hats and other beachwear, the city Conference and Visitor’s Bureau announced Friday.
A message left at the Santa Cruz mayor’s office Saturday night was not returned.
For years, both towns have called themselves Surf City after the 1963 hit song by Jan and Dean that boasts of a place where there are “two girls for every boy.”
In 2004, Huntington Beach applied for official recognition of the name. Santa Cruz cried foul, and a battle began, with the cities trading legal challenges, taunts and talk of a surfing contest for the title.
Santa Cruz applied for its own trademark: “Original Surf City, USA.” Then-mayor Mike Rotkin even strummed his guitar on a local cable access channel and musically challenged Huntington Beach to a surf-off.
Dean Torrence, who co-wrote the song, lives in Huntington Beach and has said he backs his hometown’s claim.
Huntington Beach holds world-class surfing competitions and houses the International Surfing Museum.
But Santa Cruz surfers note that their city is internationally known for its gnarly waves — even if surfers must use wetsuits because of the chilly water.
A state senator from Santa Cruz has proposed a resolution asking the Legislature to recognized his town as the official “Surf City USA.”
“We think that bill is frivolous, and now probably unconstitutional because you’re talking about federal trademark law,” said Doug Traub, president and chief executive officer of the Huntington Beach Conference and Visitor’s Bureau.
Traub stressed that the name “Surf City” — minus the “USA” — is not trademarked, and is legally used by dozens of businesses in both cities.
It also is the actual name of cities in New Jersey and North Carolina.
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