Red Flannel dispute is pants

September 2012

Live events industry


“Red Flannel” is a trade mark based on the traditional American long johns, and used by the Cedar Springs City Council and by the areas local festival – the Red Flannel Festival. All was seemingly peaceful until 2011 when the Council cut funding to the Festival, and attempted to use the logo on licence plates and holders – and the Festival – usefully armed with a Trade Mark – objected,  so the City removed the long-legged red flannel logo from all city property despite the fact that both the Festival and the City used a logo depicting the red rompers as part of its common heritage for over 72 years.

The licence plates and holders were withdrawn and initially the City offered the Festival $4,000 for the use of the logo in February – but the City’s lawyer then stopped the agreement on the grounds that the city was not infringing the mark because it had co-used the logo since the inception of the Festival in 1939. Then and rather than being a party to a prolonged legal battle, the logo was removed from all city property such as City Hall letterheads, street signs and city vehicles. No longer is Cedar Springs the ‘Red Flannel Town’ announced police chief Roger Paren – leaving “people are wondering about the future of the Festival and the identity of Cedar Springs”. From the Festival Board’s standpoint, “We feel the trademark issue has been resolved and look forward to fostering a flexible, reasonable and accommodating environment which will fertilize the roots of this tradition by working with the businesses and community.” The City has something similar to say: “Aside from logos being removed from City property the community won’t see much different… we’ll remain supportive of the Festival Board and consider the Red Flannel Festival a part of our hometown pride”…


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