A NY1 investigation has found that the city is potentially losing millions of dollars by allowing private companies to profit from Central Park without paying a dime to taxpayers. NY1's Lindsey Christ filed the following report.

It was a pricey perfume with a very New York name: the Essence of Central Park. The non-profit Central Park Conservancy, which manages the park for the city, partnered with an Italian perfume maker to develop the luxury fragrance, touted as “reminiscent of the magnificent spring and summer blooms in Central Park.”

At $140 a bottle, the perfume promised to help raise money toward the park’s $65 million annual budget.

But just weeks after it went on sale last spring, production was halted. Another perfume maker - Bond No. 9 – already had trademarked the right to name fragrances after Central Park. It said the new perfume was violating that trademark.

NY1 has found that dozens of other companies and individuals also have snatched the Central Park name for hundreds of commercial purposes – without any compensation to the Conservancy or to taxpayers – a potential loss of millions of dollars in revenue.

Royal Caribbean features football field-sized versions of Central Park -- complete with recordings of chirping birds -- on its ocean-liners, under a trademark filed in Washington to use the name on cruise ships.

There is a high-end women's clothing line Central Park West, and an investment advisory firm, Central Park Financial.

Experts tell NY1 city administrations or the conservancy could have opposed the trademark applications, and created a program licensing Central Park's name in return for a fee. Or they could have registered the trademarks themselves, before the businesses did.

"The city could have had more extensive trademark rights if they had done things right from the beginning," said Jason Drangel, an intellectual property attorney.

Added June Besek, of the Columbia University School of Law, "They really have to make sure that if they have these marks that they take care of them."

"You've sat on your rights, you haven't enforced them and based on that, you can't turn around all of a sudden because you see everybody else licensing brands and trying to make money off of it, all of a sudden turn around and say 'Oh I want to do that.' You can't and that's the problem," Drangel said.  

Bond No. 9 filed its trademark claim a decade ago - staking the right to use the Central Park name on all cosmetics, from eye-pencils to lipstick. Bond also trademarked the use of Central Park West and Central Park South for those products.

The commercial use of iconic New York names goes far beyond Central Park. One company has trademarked the right to name home goods after Gramercy Park – like  $130 Egyptian cotton sheets. Another company has trademarked Gramercy cigars, made in Nicaragua. And Random House created the Gramercy publishing imprint.

Even when the companies are out of business, like Times Square Clothing - based in Denver - the words can remain locked up by trademark.

Ironically, thanks to substantial spending by the city and the conservancy, the value of the Central Park brand has been increasing. Crime has plummeted and gardens and lawns have been restored - a benefit to the companies and individuals profiting from the park's name.

Asked for comment, the conservancy referred all questions by NY1 to the mayor’s office. A spokesman there says because there is more than one Central Park in the U.S., the city decided only to trademark Central Park signage with the iconic maple leaf logo.

And that Italian company that made 'Essence of Central Park? It's now selling a new fragrance, in the exact same bottle. It's called simply, "Essence of the Park." No mention of New York's iconic greenspace, which now will see no money from its sale.