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Rocky Mountain Sign Law
By Brian J. Connolly
October 11, 2016

Halloween is a time for ghouls, goblins, monsters, and . . . scary sign regulation problems.

An interesting Halloween tradition in West Hartford, Connecticut has taken on a political dimension in advance of the 2016 presidential election.  Matt Warschauer has constructed, as part of his home Halloween display, a "Trump Wall" in his yard, complete with statues of The Donald, Hillary Clinton, and plenty of orange and black accoutrement.

So, the question (for sign regulation geeks such as ourselves) comes to mind:  is the "Trump Wall" a sign?  The West Hartford code defines "sign" as "Any device for visual communication which is used for the purpose of bringing the subject thereof to the attention of the public, including the devices displayed within three feet behind windows and visible from outside of the building.

Merchandise or facsimile merchandise shall not be considered a sign."  Thus, it seems like the Trump Wall could be a sign.  And it seems almost certain that the Trump Wall is a noncommercial sign, since it does not appear to propose a commercial transaction.

The West Hartford sign code goes on to describe special regulations for "holiday decorations" as follows:  "Holiday decorations without commercial advertising" have no limits on maximum sign area, maximum number of signs, location on the property, and do not require a permit.  This provision bodes well for the Trump Wall.

But to avoid further questions about our mental state, we'll refrain from comment on whether the West Hartford code is content neutral.  Happy Halloween!

Billboard Insider
By Staff Writer
October 26, 2016

Who is T-Rex?  T-Rex Property AB was founded in 2003 by Mats Hylin, Mats Dahlgren and Fredrik Persson.  The company acquired 12 patents for outdoor advertising products.T-Rex Property AB has been suing outdoor companies who use a computer to control digital signs.  T-Rex owns US Patent Number RE39,470 titled Digital Information System and that the patent relates to the use of a computer to remotely control electronic devices including digital signs.

Who Has T-Rex Sued? Since 2012 T-Rex Property AB has filed 59 lawsuits relating to patent infringement.   T-Rex started out suing outdoor advertising companies which operated large digital billboards.  T-Rex has expanded lawsuits to include Cinemark and AMC (which run advertising on movie theater screens) as well as the owners of digital sign networks in shopping malls and health clubs,   You can see a list of the lawsuits here.

What Do The Lawsuits Say?   The lawsuits state that the billboard or digital sign company using a computer to remotely control digital signs is infringing T-Rex's patent and request that the court award damages to T-Rex for the infringement.  T-Rex then threatens to proceed with a jury trial unless the billboard company or sign manufacturer settle.

Who's fought back?   In June 2016 Broadsign filed a countersuit against T-Rex on behalf of 5 Broadsign customers who have been sued by T-Rex.  Broadsign is challenging the validity of T-Rex's patents and has requested a jury trial.  The case has not yet gone to trial.

Are You At Risk Of A Lawsuit?  Not if you've bought a sign from Watchfire, Daktronics or Formetco because those three manufacturers have settled with T-Rex so that all users of their products are indemnified from litigation.  If you use anyone else's digitl signs you are at risk of a lawsuit.  T-Rex has begun suing billboard companies which use Samsung digital signs.  Insider expects T-Rex to continue suing operators who use products from sign companies who haven't settled.

What Should You Do?   Nothing if your digital sign was made by Watchfire, Daktronics or Formetco.  You are protected from a lawsuit.  Otherwise you should talk with your sign rep to understand what your manufacturer will do to protect you if you get sued.  Insider wouldn't buy a digital sign from a manufacturer which hadn't settled with T-Rex unless he was indemnified by the manufacturer from all costs of defending a lawsuit.

US Presidential Billboards Generating Global Buzz
Huffington Post
By Nicole Hayes
October 19, 2016
 In the costly, media-saturated, hyper-social US election, candidates and causes are breaking through the noise with billboards.
Regardless of party or ideology, billboards deliver what political advertising craves: attention.
One clever billboard can generate global buzz.
In 2010, a lone billboard along Interstate 35 in Minnesota featuring a smiling former President George Bush launched a slogan that infiltrated the national political debate: "Miss me yet?"
At the height of the 2016 US election, a billboard in Michigan spoofing candidate Donald Trump's views on Islam was seen worldwide online.
A billboard posted near Dearborn, MI, reads "Donald Trump can't read this, but he's scared of it." (The Nuisance Committee)
Earlier in the election season, pro-Trump billboards in rural Pennsylvania sponsored by an Amish political action committee lit up social media and the internet.
Consistently provocative and creative PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) posted a double ententre on billboards promoting cat adoption, quoting Trump's lewd "locker room" phrase.
Pro-choice group ProChoiceCats.com jumped on the same bandwagon, targeting Trump's controversial comments about women.
 In Indiana, a national Republican committee is using billboards to highlight its questions about a Democratic candidate's residency and source of income.
Not all billboard-political messages are negative. A small billboard for a candidate for county treasurer went viral, with the promise "I won't steal and I know how to count."
Factoids: Political Ad Spend
  1. The doomed Jeb Bush bid for the presidency put its money into TV and radio ($80 million combined from the Bush campaign and pro-Bush groups).
  2. By the summer of 2016, overall political ad spend was tracking 122 percent above 2012 levels.
  3. Political advertisers will buy more than $1 billion in digital ad space (online, mobile) this election, compared to a trickle in 2012, according to Borrell Associates. Media analysts say Facebook and Google will get the biggest share of that bonanza.
  4. Ad-spend data compiled by tracking service Kantar Media says political advertisers spent 16+ percent more on out of home (OOH) ads through August of 2016 compared to the first eight months of 2014.
In 2014, the OOH media share of political ad spend was 1 percent, up from 0.8 percent in 2012, according to data from Kantar Media. Even in the midst of massive growth in online/internet ads, the lion's share of political advertising goes to TV.

Recycling and Vinyl Meet for a Fashion Frenzy
The Charlotte Post
By Ashley Mahoney
October 19, 2016

Adams Outdoor Advertising and the Mint Museum Uptown present "Outdoor Is In," a free fashion exhibit Oct. 19-30 on Level 5 of the Mint.  

The pop-up exhibit features 19 dresses constructed from recycled and re-imagined vinyl billboards (one from the Mint, as well as 15 other organizations).

"When we heard about the Mint's celebration of the Year of the Woman, we recognized immediately that our first-of-its-kind project would be a perfect fit with the theme since the artists and designers who created the incredible dresses are all women," Adams Outdoor Advertising's Jeannine Dodson said.

"Outdoor Is In" emerged in response to a dress designed by Columbia, S.C., artist Flavia Lovatelli. Lovatelli's work appeared on a billboard for ArtPop (an Arts & Science Council and Adams Outdoor initiative to promote local artists in donated advertising spaces). When she turned the billboard into a ball gown, Adams Outdoor Advertising had "TrashionArtistas" Elyse Frederick and Rocia Llusca (Charlotte), Edelweiss De Guzman (Mooresville), Teresa Rench (Fort Mill), Althea Womack (Augusta, Ga.) and Marynel Watters (Cornelius) produce similar creations for a runway show at the Mint last month.

Celebrating the Mint's 80th anniversary Oct. 22-23, the museum marks the Year of the Woman with additional exhibits (free of charge for the weekend): "Women of Abstract Expressionism" from the Denver Art Museum, which premiers on the East Coast in Charlotte, and "Fired Up: Contemporary Glass by Women Artists from the Toledo Museum of Art."