News Stories

The Shell Love Bug Controversy Explained

This vehicle has been a topic of controversy lately. In this battle over a car, neither side is giving up. Here’s the story of what happened.

Lee County created a national day called “National Seashell Day”, in order to bring mass awareness to our beaches. In an effort to promote the holiday, the county consulted with a local artist named Pam Rambo, who is famous for her social media pages that showcase seashells. Pam came up with the idea of decorating a vehicle with shells and using it to draw attention. The county agreed and they purchased a Volkswagen in their name and handed it to Pam for the decoration.

Pam, then created a beautiful masterpiece using around 20,000 shells that are native to Southwest Florida. It took about 34 days to complete.

The vehicle turned out to be a success. It became an icon for the city of Sanibel, and was even featured in ABC’s Good Morning America. The city also placed the vehicle in the Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW).

Here’s where it gets complicated. Apparently, when making the deal to make the “Shell Love Bug” a county employee told Pam that she could keep the vehicle after it was used for the promotion. This was one of the main reasons Pam accepted to do the job, and what motivated her to use most of her personal shells she had collected with her family.
Pam copyrighted the design, and is now suing the county for copyright infringement, replevin, and unjust enrichment.

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