Plumbers fight for famous phone number
LINCOLN, R.I. - One-hit wonder Tommy Tutone made the phone number 867-5309 famous in the band's 1982 hit single, which uses the digits over and over in its catchy refrain.
Now, a Rhode Island company and a national firm are battling over the right to use the number, which doesn't reach the "Jenny" that Tutone sings about, but could find callers a decent plumber.
Two years ago, Gem Plumbing & Heating of Lincoln, R.I., trademarked the phone number in the early 1980s hit, which reached No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Gem acquired the number in Rhode Island when its original owner, Brown University, gave up 867-5309 after growing weary of the constant prank calls.
Gem's number works in the 401 area code in Rhode Island and the 617 area code in southern Massachusetts.
But Florida-based Clockwork Home Services, also a plumbing company, uses a toll-free version of 867-5309 in New England. They argue a company can only trademark a vanity number, like 1-800-FLOWERS.
Gem won round one in its legal fight over the number when a federal judge in Boston recently barred Clockwork from using the number in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, effective this week. But Clockwork's lawyers said they would fight on.
Tommy "Tutone" Heath told The Boston Globe that he'd prefer if neither company used the number.
"It's ridiculous," said Heath. "If I wanted to get into it, I could probably take the number away from both of them."