This is an archived article that was published on in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

If a leopard can't change its spots, can an elephant change its colors?

I wrote two weeks ago about an attorney for the Republican National Committee threatening Democratic Salt Lake County mayor candidate Ben McAdams with legal action if the group Republicans for McAdams didn't remove the GOP elephant logo from its Facebook page.

In his letter, Jonathan Waclawski said: "The RNC is charged with zealously protecting its trademarks, and any unauthorized use can mislead the public to believe that the RNC sponsors, approves or is affiliated with that entity."

I actually received the letter from Waclawski before the McAdams campaign did, leading them to wonder if the outrage was more of a publicity stunt than a legal concern.

After analyzing the issue, Zeke Dumke, an attorney acting as legal advisor for the McAdams campaign, told me this week that the Republicans for Ben McAdams logo complies with the "safe harbor" provisions of the Federal Trademark Act. Those provisions make it legal if there is enough change in the logo to eliminate confusion over what it represents.

In this case, the Republicans for Ben McAdams logo is orange and brown, the colors McAdams has used on his campaign materials. The official RNC logo is red, white and blue.

Dumke said the RNC sent the letter apparently without doing due diligence and wondered about the sincerity since it was sent to the news media — me — before the campaign.

He said they haven't heard anything since from the GOP on the issue. He also said he has seen that logo used in all sorts of venues, by all sorts of people, so this might be "selective enforcement."

But one Republican source said the GOP has been waiting for a response and now plans to pursue the issue in a more official manner. It's a violation of the trademark, says the source, which is a universal symbol of the Republican Party. And, he says, they are using it to run against the Republican candidate for mayor, Mark Crockett.

When you wish upon a star • Gov. Gary Herbert, who never saw a fundraising opportunity he didn't like, has booked Republican Party rock star Chris Christie to be the headline speaker at his fundraising gala this fall.

The first-term New Jersey governor has been the darling of conservatives in the GOP and his star is constantly rising. He has frequently been mentioned as a possible vice presidential running mate to Mitt Romney.

And that, already, has led to jokes in local Republican ranks about Herbert's need for some pizzazz to attract the GOP faithful to his banquet.

As one GOP partisan joked: "It's sort of like Neil Sedaka asking Meat Loaf to play at his daughter's wedding."

comments powered by Disqus