Arms race: Minnesota broker sues Canadian realtor over pose

Kris Lindahl is trying to trademark his “arms-out” pose

Kris Lindahl and Rob Golfi (Getty, Kris Lindahl Real Estate, The Golfi Team)
Kris Lindahl and Rob Golfi (Getty, Kris Lindahl Real Estate, The Golfi Team)

An international arms race has erupted over a pose.

Kris Lindahl, a Minnesota’s realtor, sued Canadian agent Rob Golfi, saying he stole a signature posture, FOX 9 reported. Lindahl, whose website calls his firm the “arms out real estate company,” and whose image is plastered on billboards throughout the Twin Cities, alleges copyright infringement.

Golfi attended a seminar on real estate marketing taught by Lindahl and signed an agreement that he wouldn’t use the Minnesotan’s intellectual property without authorization. The Hamilton, Ontario-based broker then used the “arms outstretched” pose, for which Lindahl has applied for a trademark, in a marketing campaign, violating the deal.

The RE/MAX broker’s use of the pose causes, “irreparable and immeasurable harm with each passing day,” Lindahl told the outlet. It depicts “a human shown from chest up, smiling and looking straight ahead, with arms outstretched slightly higher than perpendicular to the torso and fingers splayed,” the TV station reported, citing his application for a trademark.

Legal fights aren’t rare in the real estate world, although litigation rarely revolves around human arms. Recent lawsuits include the allegations that Related Companies had a “poor door” for residents of 15 Hudson Yards. A judge threw out the case earlier this month.

Another lawsuit involving Los Angeles-based developer Barry Shy alleges Shy failed to disclose litigation threats in the sale of a multifamily portfolio. In San Francisco, Alexandria Real Estate Equities got slapped with a lawsuit seeking to prevent its sale of an unbuilt biotech development.

Tom Phung, a patent attorney in the Twin Cities who isn’t involved in the case, said Lindahl has a strong case, although it’s relatively new territory for intellectual property law. “He’s interested in protecting his brand,” Phung told the outlet.

–– Kate Hinsche

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