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The 7 Days convenience store on 18th Street in Adams Morgan advertises party supplies, ice, and “fresh coffee & donuts.” But it no longer advertises itself. After being sued by the corporation that owns 7-Eleven, in a case settled last month, the basement shop at 2335 18th St. NW covered the center of its sign with what appears to be a yellow piece of tarp, held in place by duct tape.
The now-concealed logo of the independent shop featured a large numeral 7 with the word “days” printed across the stem, where the word “eleven” appears on the chain-store logo. There were differences between the two: 7-Eleven uses a two-tone 7 (red stem, orange cap) on a field of white; 7 Days offered an all-maroon 7 on a field of black. And real 7-Eleven signs usually don’t accompany their emblem with multi-colored paintings of the store’s wares.
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But the similarities were enough to draw the ire of officials of 7-Eleven Inc. “Although imitation is the sincerest form of flattery,” the company says in a statement, “7-Eleven has very strong rights in its marks…and enforces these rights both in the United States and throughout the world whenever necessary.” Cynthia Baker, spokesperson for the Big Bite purveyors, says she’s not certain exactly how the 7 Days sign came to the company’s attentiononly that the corporate office requested late last year that its legal department look into the matter.
According to the settlement, filed on May 2 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, the small store has to give up more than its sign. The store is forbidden from “using the 7-DAYS name, mark, or logo…using any other name, mark, or logo consisting, in whole, or in part, of the numerals ‘7’ or ’11,’ or the words ‘SEVEN’ or ‘ELEVEN’ for convenience store or related products or services.”
In 1999, 7-Eleven got a similar settlement requiring an unrelated 7 Days market, on Georgia Avenue NW, to change its name.
Store co-owner Beniam Solomon, who opened the Adams Morgan 7 Days about a year and a half ago, and his attorney both declined to comment on the lawsuit. In a separate interview this past December, however, Solomon told the Washington City Paper that he had sketched the 7 Days logo for his sign-maker and that any resemblance to the intellectual property of the Slurpee-slingers was unintentional. “We’re not here to forge anybody’s sign,” he said.
Customers and passers-by familiar with the now-veiled sign say that they noticed the resemblance, but most maintain that they never confused Solomon’s operation with 7-Eleven’s. “Definitely not,” 23-year-old Adams Morgan resident Eliza Barclay says, adding that she’s passed by the store “a thousand times.”
“Hell, no,” says Kobi E. Nichols, pointing out the images of multicolored balloons and a steaming coffee cup flanking the center logo.
“I know my 7-Elevens,” says 36-year-old Adams Morgan resident Sydney West, emerging from the store. “I love my 7-Elevens. I love my Slurpees.” CP