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Landmark 'Toronto' sign subject of lawsuit
Published Monday, April 4, 2016 11:14AM EDT Last Updated Monday, April 4, 2016 7:00PM EDT
A Toronto man claims he came up with the design for the illuminated TORONTO sign at Nathan Phillips Square and never received credit for the idea.
Bruce Barrow, a branding consultant, is now taking legal action against the city.
The statement of claim, filed Monday by Toronto lawyer John Simpson, alleges there was a “breach of confidence” and “misappropriation of confidential information” when the city opted to put up the sign.
Barrow alleges that he was invited to present his project ‘CityBrand,’ a 29-page document outlining branding concepts for the city of Toronto, to Coun. Josh Colle in 2013. The proposal included sketches of a large TORONTO sign and listed Nathan Phillips Square as its ideal location.
“It was expressed and understood at the time that this document describing the CityBrand proposal was being provided on a strictly confidential basis and that its contents were not to be used or disclosed without the plaintiff’s expressed concert,” the claim states.
The claim also says that Barrow’s CityBrand project is “virtually identical to what ultimately appeared” at Nathan Phillips Square two years later.
Mayor John Tory and councillors Josh Colle and Michael Thompson are named in the claim along with the city.
The release said that Barrow followed up with Thompson in Jan. 2015 about whether the city was interested in pursuing the CityBrand concept but received no response.
The sign was unveiled in July 2015 during the Pan Am Games.
Barrow claims that in all statements and advertising regarding the sign, he did not receive a single mention.
“Mr. Barrow looks forward to getting his due credit and compensation for conceiving this iconic structure," Simpson said in a press release. “The city’s explanation to date, that by sheer coincidence it came up with exactly the same idea on its own and around the same time that Mr. Barrow shared it with them in confidence just doesn’t hold water.”
Barrow is seeking $1.75 million in damages and $750,000 in punitive, aggravated and exemplary damages.
Simpson told CTV Toronto that the city was "actively seeking an idea like this" when Barrow's project "fell in their lap."
"On the surface, it looks simple and it looks like it's not an original idea per say -- Hollywood has had a sign like this for many years -- but it is what is beneath the surface that counts in a case like this," Simpson told CTV Toronto. "It's not just the idea of a sign."
Simpson said that it has yet to be determined how the proposal reached individuals working in the city's Economic Development and Culture Committee before they claimed the project as their own.
"Whether it came through Mr. Tory's mayoral campaign or not is to be determined," Simpson said.
The claims have yet to be proven in court.