Via IPKat.com (which put the meow back in IP), here is an article about claimed rights in street signs in London:
Prominent designer Sir Misha Black's 1960s street signs for London's Westminster are to be protected against counterfeiters and copyright cheats for the first time in their 40-year history.Westminster City Council is now the sole owner of the iconic red-and-black lettered enamel steel signs, as well as of the copyright to their original drawings and design briefs from Black's estate. Anyone wishing to reproduce the signs, many of which mark London's best-known locations, such as Carnaby Street, Abbey Road and Downing Street, needs permission from the council.Councillor Danny Chalkley, cabinet member for transport and economic development, says, 'We bought the copyright as we felt we needed to retain an element of control over the signs to maintain Westminster's image as a world class tourist information.' Created by Black in 1967, the enamel steel signs are said to have become synonymous with Westminster.The council bought the copyright from Black's estate, which is represented by his son Oliver Black. Anyone wishing to copy the signs should contact Westminster City Council to discuss their particular requirements. According to the council, any copyright fees levied by the council will be ploughed back into frontline services for Westminster's residents.
I put one of the signs as my picture profile today. I doubt that the signs would be protected under U.S. copyright law; perhaps my friends to the east of the Great Pond could explain the elements of originality under UK copyright law that would lead to protection.