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Moss Neck name leads to dispute
Who owns the name "Moss Neck"?

Date published: 2/8/2013



Two adjacent landowners in Caroline County disagree about who owns the rights to the name "Moss Neck," or whether anyone does.

The matter is between Larry Silver, CEO of the Silver Cos. real estate development and investment firm, and Gil and Judy Shelton.

The Sheltons own a 280-acre property off the south side of U.S. 17 in Caroline that includes the historic Moss Neck Manor home. Silver, through an entity called Moss Neck Manor Plantation Inc., owns an adjacent 1,209-acre property.

The Silver Cos. wants to build a small, high-end resort on its land and also mine the property for sand and gravel.

The Fredericksburg company does not yet have permission from Caroline to build the resort, and Silver executive Jud Honaker said no name has been chosen for the proposed facility. But he said using some form of the name "Moss Neck" would be logical.

Gil Shelton wrote in an email to a Free Lance-Star reporter last month that he and his wife own the trademark rights to the name "Moss Neck," and that the name can't be used for any commercial purpose without their approval.

The Silver Cos. disagrees. This week an attorney for the New York-based law firm Pearl Cohen Zedek Latzer LLP sent a letter to the Sheltons on behalf of Moss Neck Manor Plantation Inc. disagreeing with Shelton's comments to the newspaper.

The letter states that Moss Neck is a "geographic and historical locale," and hence no single party is entitled to exclusive rights to the name.

The letter asks for an amicable resolution that would allow both parties to use the name "Moss Neck."

Shelton declined to comment on the letter, calling it a private legal matter.

According to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's website, the Sheltons did have a trademark on the Moss Neck name, but it was canceled in August 2011. The Sheltons filed another request for the trademark in October 2011, according to the website, but the USPTO did not approve it.

The USPTO notes that applicants are able to appeal decisions or request a reconsideration.

Bill Freehling: 540/374-5405
Email: bfreehling@freelancestar.com