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Sales of ‘The Terrible Mask’ spark lawsuit from owner of ‘The Terrible Towel’ trademark

PITTSBURGH — A new lawsuit claims the sales of “The Terrible Mask” and related items such as neck gaiters are infringing on the trademark of “The Terrible Towel,” created more than 40 years ago by Pittsburgh sports icon Myron Cope.

The lawsuit was filed by the Eamon Foundation in federal court in Pittsburgh. It accuses Time In, which has a store in Indiana, Pa., of making money from the sales of their masks.

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The suit says Cope gifted all legal rights to the Allegheny Valley School in 1996. The non-profit school provides homes, in-home care and other services to intellectually and developmentally disabled people. The name then changed to Eamon Foundation in 2016.

According to the lawsuit, the Steelers own the exclusive license to market, produce and sell products using “The Terrible Towel” trademarks and that neither the store nor the manager, Charles Goldberg, were given rights to sell the face coverings. The suit said Goldberg claimed he had a written “non-interference” agreement from 1978 in which he would not challenge Cope’s right to make and sell “The Terrible Towel” and Cope agreed to allow the sale of any other goods and products bearing the word ‘terrible.’ However, Goldberg admitted he could not find an original or copy of the agreement.