NEW YORK -- When you hear their trademark music and instantly you know a Mister Softee ice cream truck is heading your way.
But, the company is now suing a rival ice cream truck in Queens for allegedly stealing its jingle.
It's just 16 notes in the key of E-flat.
And to children everywhere the jolly jingle means only one thing.
"It means that we can go outside and get some ice cream," one child said.
You may not share the same enthusiasm for the endless loop of chimes...
"When I first started working here I would hear it in my sleep," said Joe Valerio, a Mister Softee driver.
But now, it sounds like money for Valerio, the longtime Mister Softee driver earns his living on those 16 notes.
It's been the company's brand for generations, but now Valerio says knockoff ice cream trucks are churning through his turf and playing his tune.
"These guys are running around here playing our music, they're not paying the royalties, they're pretty much laughing at Mister Softee," Valerio said.
Valerio works purely on commission which means that jingle drives every dollar. And when competitors use that music to scoop up his business, he says his profits simply melt away.
Mister Softee says the culprit is one of the drivers from a company called "New York Ice Cream" profiled last month by the website Gothamist playing the trademarked tune.
"They painted my truck last year because Mister Softee wants $30,000 now. They used to charge $15,000," Valerio said.
Now Mister Softee is playing hardball and suing the company for trademark infringement.
No one wanted to talk to Eyewitness News at the defendant's Long Island City garage Tuesday.
"About time they do something about it," Valerio said.
But back on the street Valerio's focused on keeping his valuable clientele happy, a freebie here and there doesn't hurt, while he hopes his employer can ice out the competition.
Mister Softee suing rival ice cream truck in New York for stealing jingle
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