City Of Marathon Hand-Waves Stupid Cease And Desist Sent By Councilman Over City Seal

from the be-gone-with-ye dept

Earlier this month, we were discussing the odd (read: stupid) campaign by a City Councilman for the City of Marathon in Florida to get his city to trademark the city seal. The whole thing was frustratingly stupid for all kinds of reasons. For starters, trademark law is very clear that municipal governments can't trademark their seals, full stop. Councilman Mark Senmartin wanted his own government to do something it couldn't legally do. Cool. The city seemed mostly unaware of this at the time, instead refusing to bow to Senmartin's demands since there had been virtually zero issues with people using the seal inappropriately elsewhere, with one minor issue during a local political campaign notwithstanding. And, to wrap the absurdity of it all in a nice little dumb bow, Senmartin proceeded to apply for the trademark himself and send his own city a cease and desist notice, apparently in an attempt to prove a point.

That point appears not to have taken, however, as the City of Marathon has flicked the C&D off of its shoulders, having apparently educated itself on trademark law.

The Marathon City Council’s refusal on March 12 to canonize an official city seal led to Councilman Mark Senmartin applying to trademark the town’s logo with the state a week later. However, according to Marathon City Attorney David Migut, that won’t prevent the city from using the logo.

Senmartin gave the city a 30-day cease-and-desist notice March 26 at a Marathon council meeting, but Migut said after researching the matter that state and federal law recognizes “first-to-use” rights regardless of a trademark application being filed. The city chose the logo during a design contest after incorporation in 1999 and began using it in 2000.

Migut wrote in a memo to the council April 9 that first-use rights mean the city does not have to worry about the cease-and-desist notice. Migut also wrote that a municipal insignia cannot be registered as a trademark, according to state and federal law. He added that if the city wanted more enforcement power over use of the logo, it could adopt an ordinance. Thus far, three councilman have refused to pass such an ordinance.

It's enough to make you wonder if one of you fair folk simply sent Migut a copy of our post on the topic, because he basically tracks the arguments we made. I shudder to think what the reaction from Senmartin will be, given the brash displays of ignorance in the past, but hopefully this will now all go away. I also can't imagine he made many friends in the government of which he is a part, having tried to C&D his way to a point that never had any validity.

Still, there's something refreshing in the age of ownership when a group so forcefully pushes back on the idea of trademarking all the things.

Filed Under: city seal, david migut, florida, marathon, mark senmartin, trademark


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  • icon
    stderric (profile), 22 Apr 2019 @ 7:53pm

    It's enough to make you wonder if one of you fair folk simply sent Migut a copy of our post on the topic, because he basically tracks the arguments we made. I shudder to think what the reaction from Senmartin will be, given the brash displays of ignorance in the past

    Senmartin will stay parallel with Mitgut and react by incoherently ranting to the City Council about Common Law?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Apr 2019 @ 7:53pm

    Smackdown

    So did the City Council decide this quickly, or was it a Marathon sitting, during which they concluded a response in the negative to Councillor "Trade"Mark Senmartin?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 23 Apr 2019 @ 7:30am

    One does wonder how the citizens feel about their representative wasting time & resources on a non-issue taking time away from actual problems in the city.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    John85851 (profile), 23 Apr 2019 @ 10:23am

    Can he even send a C&D?

    Can the councilman (or anyone else) send out a C&D order while their trademark application is still pending? What right does he have to send a C&D if the trademark office could (rightfully and legally) turn down his request? On what grounds can anyone trademark the seal of a city?

    Could the city, "to prove a point", turn around and sue him for trademark bullying?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Oninoshiko (profile), 23 Apr 2019 @ 10:29am

      Re: Can he even send a C&D?

      A C&D isn't a order, it's a letter. It has no legal significance, so yes, he can send letters that say all kind of crazy things.

      The general response to such letters is a KGFY (Kindly go f- yourself) letter sent in reply.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 23 Apr 2019 @ 4:22pm

        Re: Re: Can he even send a C&D?

        Or, in proper legalese: the response is most typically a firmly-worded request for sand to be pounded by the recipient.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Apr 2019 @ 11:07am

    Since "The city chose the logo during a design contest after incorporation in 1999 and began using it in 2000..." as the article states, couldn't the city go after him for infringing on their copyrighted logo?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    DB (profile), 23 Apr 2019 @ 1:14pm

    The first question that leapt to mind:
    What declarations did he make in the trademark application?

    https://www.uspto.gov/trademark/laws-regulations/verified-statement

    What is the penalty for swearing to information that he knew to be false? (It looks like perjury...)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 24 Apr 2019 @ 1:56am

      Re:

      People apparently did a little digging when the original article went up, and it looked like it wasn't a federal trademark application, but just a state one.

      Certainly would be funny to have his stunt blow up in his face(more than it already has) though.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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