A marketer says these renderings of big “Toronto” signs are proof the city owes him $2.5 million

A marketer says these renderings of big “Toronto” signs are proof the city owes him $2.5 million

Seemingly everyone loves the giant, light-up “Toronto” sign in Nathan Phillips Square, which was erected to promote the Pan Am Games and then left standing over the winter by popular demand. There is one guy who has mixed feelings about the sign, though: Bruce Barrow, who in January filed a $2.5-million lawsuit against the city, John Tory and councillors Josh Colle and Michael Thompson. Barrow claims that the whole “giant sign that says the name of the city” concept was his idea first, and that he has a PowerPoint presentation—which he says he showed to Colle, Thompson and Tory back in 2014 in an effort to drum up business for his marketing consultancy—to prove it.

Intellectual property cases are often tricky, so we won’t prejudge the outcome of this one. It bears mentioning, though, that Barrow, in his PowerPoint, acknowledges a debt to an even more famous sign. “The Hollywood sign has been around for 93 years,” he said when questioned about this. “Within a week after I dropped off my proposal with Josh Colle they came up with the same idea.”

The city, meanwhile, in its statement of defence, says municipal staffers had begun planning Pan Am decorations as early as 2010. Could it be that two different people independently came up with the idea of making a big sign that says the name of the city it’s in? Take a look at Barrow’s slides, dated 2013, and judge for yourself: