The film series Mondo Baltimore wants arts organization Le Mondo, which has an under-construction venue downtown and has come under fire for its handling of sexual abuse allegations against one of its founders, to change its name.
On Monday morning, the group — which launched in 2009 by showing “bad movies,” and now hosts monthly showings at the Windup Space — launched an online campaign to get Le Mondo to change its name to avoid confusion between the two organizations, said Mondo Baltimore co-founder Mark Colegrove. A video, posted to the group’s Facebook page, encourages Mondo Baltimore fans to urge the organization to change its name by writing emails and letters.
“We hope that they’ll re-evaluate the name of the venue,” Colegrove said. “It’s been a thorn in our side for some time, obviously given the coverage that’s been going on.”
Le Mondo is a years-in-the-making arts complex being built at 406-412 N. Howard St. at an estimated cost of $4 million to $6 million. The first building set to open in 2018, according to Le Mondo’s website, is called Mondo, and will feature a multi-use performance venue, bar and artist studios. (Le Mondo co-founder Evan Moritz did not immediately respond to an email requesting comment Monday.)
In July, The Baltimore Sun reported Le Mondo had been criticized for its handling of sexual abuse allegations against its co-founder, Ric Royer. The fallout led to Royer’s removal and disapproval from members of the arts community in how Le Mondo handled the allegations.
Mondo Baltimore (which averages 60 attendees per month, Colegrove said) first contacted Le Mondo co-founder Carly Bales a year ago via email over concerns with the similar names, said Mondo Baltimore board member Michael Ziccardi.
“This is nothing new for Le Mondo to know,” Ziccardi said. “This just needs to stop.”
Mondo Baltimore has a local trademark on “Mondo” via common law trademark rights, which allows a business, once its name is used in commerce in a specific region, to own a trademark, even if the name isn’t a federally registered trademark, said Colegrove. (Mondo Baltimore does not have a federal trademark on the name, Colegrove said.)
Jan Berlage, a partner with Gohn, Hankey & Berlage LLP in Columbia who handles trademark lawsuits, said Mondo Baltimore’s common-law trademark should protect it against Le Mondo because both operate in Baltimore, and the former came first. (Berlage’s practice does not represent any of the parties involved, he said.)
“The general principle is if you’re using it in your geographic area in your industry, you’re going to be able to claim the right to continue to use it in your specific geographic area,” Berlage said. The majority of similar cases he’s seen settle before going to court, Berlage said, typically because the high court costs aren’t worth it to the parties.
Mondo Baltimore first asked Le Mondo to change its Instagram handle, which is @mondobmore, Colegrove said. As of Monday, Le Mondo’s Instagram page was no longer available. Part of Mondo Baltimore’s motivation is to avoid confusion for potential new fans trying to find news and events related to the film series on social media, he said.
Mondo Baltimore also wants to make it clear it is not the organization that controversially handled sexual abuse allegations — a point Colegrove has had to clarify multiple times, he said.
“I’ve had some friends of ours say, ‘Wait a minute, is this you guys?’” Colegrove said.
A potential solution Mondo Baltimore would encourage is Le Mondo adding “Le” to the building’s name and exterior facade, Colegrove said. (Signage outside of Le Mondo’s first building currently reads: MONDO.)
Colegrove declined to answer if the organization is willing to take Le Mondo to court if it does not change its name. He hopes a resolution can be found before then.