Auburn’s Old State Theater to close, but….

posted by CSWalczak on December 10, 2008 at 7:48 am

AUBURN, CA — Here’s an unusual situation. According to this article the Old State Theater is or will shortly close (the theater’s website indicates Dec. 5 though the article says Dec. 20). The theater will be transformed into a performing arts center. However the current operator has copyrighted the theater’s name and intends apparently to use it as the name of her relocated cinema.

The Old State Theater, a haven for art-house films in Downtown Auburn, will close its doors Dec. 20 as an art deco movie house it has called home since opening in mid-2004.

Owner Theresa Cote said Friday that she has decided to move to a new location to let building owner the Auburn Placer Performing Arts Center non-profit move forward with plans to modify the Lincoln Way theater for live performances.

Cote, who has copyrighted the Old State Theater name, said she is looking for a building in the Auburn area with about 3,400 square feet of floor space and good parking access to re-establish her movie business. She owns the projection equipment and screens at the theater.

Read the full story in the Auburn Journal.

Theaters in this post

Comments (6)

danpetitpas on December 10, 2008 at 10:58 am

I hope the owner has registered the business name in her state rather than copyrighted it, because you can’t copyright a name.

Scott Neff
Scott Neff on December 10, 2008 at 12:49 pm

And regardless, doesn’t a name like “Old State Theatre” imply that you’re operating a business in the “Old State Theatre”. If they move out of the “Old State Theatre” it’ll just confuse people.

CSWalczak on December 10, 2008 at 2:46 pm

That’s one reason I posted this. Here on CT – and I think in general – a theater is thought of as a building. Here’s a case where it is being regarded as a business name and, well, “portable”.

I imagine that if and when the lady re-establishes her business at another location, and that location is called “Old State Theatre” and is entered on CT, the headnote will reflect these circumstances. It also appears that what is now the Old State Theater in Auburn will eventually have a new name, and “Old State Theater” will become one of its akas and hopefully lessen the confusion.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on December 10, 2008 at 5:17 pm

Trademarked or registered business names are portable. They must be renewed periodically, and you must actually be doing business under that name or you can’t renew your registration, so if Ms. Cote does hold the rights to the name she will have to get something up and running before those rights lapse.

If the outfit that bought the theater building didn’t buy the business name along with it, they can’t use it, unless the owner of the name lets them do so, or loses the rights to the name through non-use. Whether or not they could use the shorter name “State Theatre” I don’t know. It makes me wonder what will become of that neon signage.

And the Auburn Journal apparently doesn’t know the difference between a copyright and a registered business name or trademark. Most people probably don’t, but a newspaper should know better. They use both!

Scott Neff
Scott Neff on December 11, 2008 at 10:55 am

—-That’s one reason I posted this. Here on CT – and I think in general – a theater is thought of as a building. Here’s a case where it is being regarded as a business name and, well, “portable”.—–

Don’t even get me started on that. There are so many people on here who get all bent out of shape when a theatre changes ownership demand that the new chain’s name get included with it. The name of Regal’s theatre in Times Square isn’t the “Regal E-Walk Stadium 13” it’s Regal’s “E-Walk Stadium 13” The theatre has the same name regardless who owns it. (I don’t even know if that’s a good example, I’m going to go check how it’s listed now.) :o)

CSWalczak on December 11, 2008 at 1:08 pm

It is odd – and inconsistent – how people react to changes of ownership in terms of how they think a theater should continue to be identified.

I can think though of one case that is almost the reverse – Graumann’s Chinese – so many people kept calling it that after it became Mann’s Chinese that finally the Mann Company finally formally renamed and re-signed it, even though (obviously) Sid Graumann hasn’t owned the theater for quite some time.

Or take the case of the Loew’s Jersey; it hasn’t been owned by the Loew’s Corporation or any of its successors for years, yet the name remains. (The operator calls itself “Friends of the Lowe’s” not “Friends of The Jersey”). There are a number of other former Loew’s-owned theaters that people keep referring to as “Loew’s_____” even though the theaters have different owners.

However, my interest in the the “Old State Theater” article was the fact that it was the first time I had ever heard of an operator taking steps to pack up the theater’s name along with her projectors and screen as if it were a tangible item and the possible confusion that might result when a new building in the same town gets the name.

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