Pam Rambo, center, proudly shares the Shell Love Bug with Shell Festival visitors at the 2017 Shell Festival at the Community House. SC file photo
Pam Rambo, center, proudly shares the Shell Love Bug with Shell Festival visitors at the 2017 Shell Festival at the Community House. SC file photo

Ownership of the famous Shell Love Bug is being contested by its creator Pam Rambo and Lee County, which holds the title to the Volkswagen Beetle. Rambo is suing the county for ownership of the car and copyright infringement after it was displayed without her permission.

My last straw was drawn when Lee County refused to display Shell Love Bug at the 81st annual Sanibel Shell Festival,” Rambo, a longtime Sanibel resident, stated in her popular iloveshelling blog.

The Shell Love Bug was her idea and she wants it to be a part of Sanibel's history. In the meantime, an online petition to release the car to Rambo has quickly garnered 85 percent of 1,500 signatures.

It was a verbal agreement between Pam and Lee County that stated the car would be returned into Pam’s possession after National Seashell Day,” wrote the petition’s creator Denise Dillon. “As of today, that has still not occurred and Lee County is now reversing that verbal agreement.”

It’s the county’s contention that even if a county employee had entered into a verbal agreement with Rambo any such statement cannot bind the Board of Lee County Commissioners which would have to approve such an action.

In 2016, Lee County purchased the Beetle to be displayed on National Seashell Day sponsored by the Visitor and Convention Bureau and Rambo designed and implemented the artwork, consisting of more than 20,000 shells, to which she owns the federally recognized copyright.

She wouldn’t have gone through the effort of putting all of her intimate shells that had extreme personal value on a car had she not known that at the end of the day she would have the title to it,” Rambo’s attorney Joseph Coleman, of Woodward, Pires & Lombardo, has said publicly.

Rambo’s lawsuit also includes replevin and unjust enrichment. The county will have three weeks to respond to the suit and could ask for the case to be dismissed which potentially delays the deadline for its answer. To learn more about the ‘Bring the Shell Love Bug Home’ petition, CLICK HERE.