Zoo™ Suit

The Saint Louis Zoo's new baby cheetahs are cute; its lawsuits are not. Plus: Jerry Lewis Bey writes his memoir from prison, a single girl sounds off, and a local blogger finds herself in deep doo-doo.

Doug Lewis loves the Saint Louis Zoo, but the Saint Louis Zoo doesn't love Doug Lewis. On June 17, 2006, the University City resident sent a letter to zoo president and CEO Jeffrey Bonner.

Lewis wanted to clear up a misunderstanding: "It has been brought to our attention that you are using/selling our registered mark(s) without our consent. St. Louis Zoo and I Love St. Louis Zoo logo's [sic], depictions, references, or wording(s) are registered trademarks of STL Products for use in business and advertising."

Lewis operates an Internet shop (www.cafepress.com/stlproducts) where he hawks T-shirts and mugs emblazoned with proclamations like "I STL," "I Lake of the Ozarks" and "Bleed Blue, St. Louis Hockey." In August 2005 he registered "I Love St. Louis Zoo," with Missouri's Secretary of State. In April 2006 he went back to the Secretary of State and registered the phrase "St. Louis Zoo."

Dan Zettwoch

Two months later Lewis was shaking down the Zoological Subdistrict of the Metropolitan Zoological Park and Museum District. "[T]he use of our registered marks in business or advertising," he informed Bonner, "is a violation of the common law trademark rights of STL Products."

The zoo fired back. "[T]he Saint Louis Zoo has long been using both 'St. Louis Zoo' and 'Saint Louis Zoo' trademarks for a substantial number of years," reads a letter from attorney Kelly Burris of the local law firm Harness, Dickey and Pierce. "[W]e are hopeful that you will spare yourself from costly legal action in this matter."

Lewis was willing to surrender "St. Louis Zoo," but when it came to "I Love St. Louis Zoo," he balked. "[Y]ou have had ample/copious opportunity to acquire or register the protested mark," he responded. "Your...failure to take advantage of this basic state or federal registration privilege therefore does not grant carte blanche or a monopoly against every mark containing the usage 'Zoo' or 'St. Louis.'"

Then things got ugly. The zoo filed suit, arguing that Lewis had "fraudulently" trademarked the phrases. Not only was the zoo demanding that Lewis stop selling his loot, it was petitioning the court to compel him to destroy his shirts and mugs, hand over any profits and pay the zoo's attorneys' fees.

That appears to have gotten Lewis' attention. In the response he filed with the court, he offered to settle the matter via "A) A complete buy out of 'I Love St. Louis Zoo'" or "B) Exclusive rights to 'I Love St. Louis Zoo,'" adding "'READ MY LIPS' WE ARE WILLING TO WORK WITH YOU."

The zoo has yet to respond to Lewis' latest gesture, and Lewis didn't respond when Unreal tried to track him down by phone.

Book Him

Back in 1991, Jerry Lewis Bey, then the Grand Sheik of the Moorish Science Temple in St. Louis, was arrested and indicted on federal racketeering charges. Prosecutors claimed that he was the leader of a violent drug gang that controlled 40 percent of the cocaine trade in north St. Louis. Bey claimed he was completely innocent.

After a seven-and-a-half-month trial, Bey was found guilty and sentenced to life without parole. He now lives in a South Carolina prison, where he recently completed an autobiography, Government Target or Gangster.

Never one to overlook a good read, Unreal called Kimberly L., part-owner of the Staleon Group, Bey's publisher.

Unreal: Can we get a copy?

Kimberly L.: We released 100 copies to family and friends on December 1, but as of yesterday the power at the printing company was still out from the storm. More copies should be available in a couple weeks.

Just tell us a little about it, then.

It's a very detailed and graphic book. It tells the story of his life as a young child. It also talks about lots of St. Louis politicians. It speaks about the role they played in Bey's life, either as a friend or as someone he considered to have had a role in taking down his empire.

Why does he call it his "empire"?

He was a businessman, but he was also involved with religion, and that's why he calls it an empire. He feels that he was brought down because he was a Moorish leader, and Moorish leaders speak about black power, things like that.

What role does science play in the Moorish Science Temple?

Moorish Science is similar to Christian Science. It has nothing to do with "science." The basic tenet is that all black people are descended from the Moors, a nomadic African tribe. Their most famous member was Othello.

Can Bey wear his fez in prison?

You know what, there have been some pictures of him where he has his fez on.

How are his spirits?

High. He has a strong belief that he will be granted justice someday. He is just keeping the faith.


This week's Commontary™ comes from Stefanie Helfer of St. Charles, who contemplates the conundrum of being single during the holidays.

Being single is hard. Being single in St. Louis is even harder. But being single around the holidays is the worst! Usually when a friend or coworker knows you're single, they are continually trying to set you up. Sure, they have the perfect match for you. Unfortunately, the person you end up meeting after torturous hours of being told, "You never know, this could be the one," is anything but what you imagined as your dream date.

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