Businesses battling for the Lizzie Borden name

Grant Welker

The Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast showed it’s serious about protecting its reputation as a museum to the Borden murders, suing The True Story of Lizzie Borden in Salem for trademark infringement.

In the suit, filed in U.S. District Court Wednesday, the Fall River bed and breakfast seeks a ruling that would keep the Salem museum from using “Lizzie Borden museum” in its name. The bed and breakfast said it will “suffer irreparable harm” if the Salem museum is able to use the name.

The Salem museum plans to open next week and is billing itself as a “museum designed to separate the truth from the myth” in the murders. “The concept of a Museum devoted to separating fact from myth and telling the true story of Lizzie Borden is long overdue,” its Web site says.

Donald Woods, the bed and breakfast owner, declined to comment. Woods' attorney, Jeremy Blackowicz, did not respond to a call seeking comment.

The Salem museum has created the Web site, which the bed and breakfast owner said is 'confusingly similar' to the Fall River museum's

Operators of the bed and breakfast said the site has held the copyright to “Lizzie Borden Museum” since 2002.

Visitors to the bed and breakfast on Second Street have asked tour guides about the connection between the Fall River and Salem museums, and people are likely to believe the two are affiliated, the Fall River museum said. The bed and breakfast has already suffered irreparable harm because of it, the lawsuit said.

Leonard Pickel, owner of the True Story museum, said the bed and breakfast sent him three notifications beginning June 17 demanding he end use of “Lizzie Borden Museum” and that he knew of the copyright to the phrase. But, according to Pickel, the trademark belongs to a company that owned the bed and breakfast before Woods bought it.

Still, Pickel said, he agreed to stop using the words “gift shop and museum” at the end of the name because he “wanted to be nice,” and to avoid a lawsuit. Pickel said he won’t stop using because he bought the Web name in 1996, before the trademark was awarded. Pickel pointed out another Web site, for the Lizzie Andrew Borden Virtual Museum and Library, and asked why the Fall River museum wasn’t suing that group.

But Pickel, who said in a July 31 Herald News story that he’s received letters from angry Fall River residents, said his museum will help draw attention to the Borden story and benefit Fall River.

“Because of where we are, with a number of tourists, we are going to drive an incredible amount of business to Fall River from people who had no idea that Lizzie Borden even occurred in Massachusetts,” he said. “It’s very sad that they’ve decided they own Lizzie Borden and no one else can play in their sandbox.”

Woods, the bed and breakfast owner, said in the July 31 story that The True Story of Lizzie Borden shouldn’t include the name “museum” because it doesn’t have artifacts.

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