Look quickly and you may not realize that the grinning ice cream cone head spreading its maniacal music through the streets isn't the real deal. It's those scofflaw soft serve trucks at it again, a fleet of ice cream purveyors that bear an uncanny resemblance to the iconic Mister Softee trucks. Despite a federal judge officially banning the ripoff retailers on June 5th, "Master" Softee trucks have been spotted around the city, including the above photograph snapped on Sixth Avenue this past Sunday.
The Daily News brings us updates from the front lines of this gripping saga, as Mister Softee owner Jim Conway fights former franchise owner Dimitrios Tsirko for dominion over the vanilla swirled ear worm business that's been a summertime staple since 1956. Conway claims (rightfully) that Tsirko ripped off the company's mascot (that terrifying ice cream cone head), its color palate and its menu, making it very difficult for customers to differentiate between the two trucks. Conway took Tsirkos to court, where judge Laura Taylor Swain ruled in favor of the original. "It is obvious that (Tsirkos) adopted his truck designs with the object of achieving an appearance similar to plaintiff's Mister Softee trucks," Swain wrote. "The trucks are designed to appeal to children, who are relatively unsophisticated consumers."O RLY?
None of these legal proceedings seemed to sway Tsirko, 10 of whose trucks were spotted slinging soft serve in Manhattan by Conway's hired private eye. Mister Softee staff intend to offer up photos of the offending trucks to Judge Swain, hoping she'll bring down the gavel on the ban violation. In defense of his client, Tsirkos's attorney Nicholas Damadeo simply stated that "the case is still proceeding" and that appeals could be filed to reverse the ban. Hopefully this means no street battles and death threats; won't someone think of the children?