Judge declines to stop Wells Fargo 'photo bomb' sign, for now

New signage
Part of the new signage on the east side of U.S. Bank Stadium is secured into place in Minneapolis on July 20, 2015. The Vikings have accused Wells Fargo of trying to "photo bomb" the new stadium, despite a legal agreement hammered out between the team and the bank over signage in 2014.
Jeffrey Thompson | MPR News 2015

A federal court judge has turned down an initial request by the Minnesota Vikings to force Wells Fargo to give up the signs the bank has installed atop its new office towers.

The team sued the bank last month, after Wells Fargo began installing two large, flat logos on the roofs of its new downtown offices. A few blocks away, the new Vikings stadium sports the name of Wells Fargo's rival, U.S. Bank. Together, the two Wells Fargo signs are about the size of a basketball court.

The Vikings accused Wells Fargo of trying to "photo bomb" the new stadium, despite a legal agreement hammered out between the team and the bank over signage in 2014. The team argued that nearby signage could encroach on branding plans for the new stadium.

On Thursday, U.S. District Court Judge Donovan Frank declined to issue a preliminary injunction that would have had the bank cover or remove its 56-foot square, elevated and illuminated logos on top of the Portland Avenue towers.

Frank noted that the signs differed from the exact wording of the 2-year-old agreement: "The Master Signage Plan includes a diagram showing a 56-foot by 56-foot roof-top sign on each of the two Wells Fargo Towers. That diagram includes the following text: 'Non-Mounted Skyview Graphic (Qty. 2) Painted Roof Sign, Custom.'"

But Wells Fargo has argued that the bank has some wiggle room, as Frank explained in today's order: "According to Wells Fargo, the Signage Agreement's silence regarding illumination of the roof-top signs shows that the parties did not intend to prohibit illumination; if they had, they would have done so expressly."

Frank said it was too early to say which side has a stronger case, but noted that the team has a "fair chance of prevailing" in its argument.

The Vikings issued a statement responding to the order this afternoon, saying the team is confident in its legal position.

"The Vikings and Wells Fargo had a written agreement that Wells Fargo violated with its installation of mounted rooftop signage," the statement read. "Following this temporary injunction ruling, we intend to pursue the final Court decision, and we look forward to obtaining a decision that requires Wells Fargo to comply with the original agreed upon contract terms."

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