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City to no longer use Red Flannel logo

The City of Cedar Springs moved into a new era last Thursday August 9, when they voted to terminate the use of the Red Flannel logos and initiate the development of a new logo. The vote passed 6-1, with trustee Pamela Conley being the one dissenting vote.

The development is the latest in an ongoing disagreement between the City and the Red Flannel Festival on whether the City has the rights to use the logos, which the Festival has trademarked. They have requested that the City pay a licensing fee of $4,000, but the City has refused, on the grounds that they have used the logos for identification for 70-plus years, and that the current city’s budget does not allow it.

The City’s ad hoc committee originally offered $4,000 to the Festival last February, for use of the trademarked logos. But when the Festival drafted a proposal, the Festival board asked for $8,000 instead, which was the amount the city had cut from its budget for in kind services to the Festival. The city’s attorney advised them not to connect the fees with use of the logo, since they had always used it. But the city’s committee was still willing to give them $4,000 to help offset Festival expenses.

The two committees met on April 4 to try to work out an agreement. “We told them it had to be two separate agreements,” said Mayor Pro Tem Christine Fahl.

However, as budget time grew closer (the budget meeting was April 14), discretionary funds looked meager. “We didn’t want to respond until after the budget,” explained Fahl. “We then decided it might not be feasible to offer them the $4,000.”

The Festival disagreed that the city had common law rights to the trademark, but said they were willing to work with the city to help offset Festival expenses to the city. Further discussion was directed to their attorney.

In May, the Festival sent the city a cease and desist letter. On May 29, the city proposed to the Festival that the city would use the trademarks, logos, etc. for identification purposes only, and they would agree not to use them for commercial purposes without payment to the Festival. They would also cease use of all logos except the Red Flannel Town USA and round Red Flannel Town, Cedar Springs, Michigan logos. They also added an addition to the current agreement with the Festival, that if the city did accidentally profit from the sale of any items bearing the RFF trademark, they would waive city-incurred expenses associated with the Festival in that particular year.

The City’s lawyer notified the Red Flannel Festival lawyer on July 11 that the City ad hoc’s committee’s last proposal on May 29 was the City’s “last best offer” on the matter, and that if the proposals were not acceptable, the City was willing to no longer use the logos to avoid incurring further expense.

On July 12, RFF VP Nick Andres read a public letter to the Council stating that they were willing to allow the city to use all trademarks in return for city services. They said they were also agreeable to a city offer of half the services, not to exceed $3,000 and two trademarks of City’s choice.

On July 19, the City’s attorney sent an email to the RFF attorney, noting that the RFF letter from Nick Andres was interpreted as a rejection of the City’s offer of May 29, and that in light of that, the city would begin to remove existing logos from city property as the opportunity arose, and that it would be discussed further at the August City Council meeting.

On August 3, the city’s lawyer received a call from the RFF lawyer, asking whether the city was likely to pay $4,000 for use of the logos. He explained that the ad hoc committee had made it clear it would not support paying to use the logos. He told him the logo issue would be addressed at the next meeting.

The item was then put on the City Council agenda for August 9. Despite rumors to the contrary, the item was not a last minute addition.

The RFF then sent a letter to the City on August 8 with a notice to file claim for trademark infringement. They reiterated their offer to accept $4,000 for use of two trademarks.

It was at this point that the City voted 6-1 to stop using the logos.

Mayor Pro-tem Christine Fahl read a letter to the public explaining the council’s decision. She noted that on Wednesday, August 8, the City received a “notice of intention to file claim for trademark infringement” from the Red Flannel Festival. “In a nutshell, the RFF is again proposing the City pay for the use of the two logos at $4,000 per year,” said Fahl. “If the City does not agree to their proposal, they, the RFF, are requesting that within 45 days of August 8, the City remove and destroy all logos in question from City property. That being the case…we are now recommending the City adopt a motion to terminate the use of the old logos and initiate the development of a new one.”

All the Councilors expressed sadness over the decision but felt it was the right one to make.

Councilor Pat Capek, who worked with the Red Flannel Festival for many years, said it was a tough decision. But she thinks it was a positive one. “Having the City and the Festival be separate entities is a good thing, and will allow a more positive relationship between the City and the Festival,” she said.

Mayor Charlie Watson said he hoped that the public didn’t think that they take the disagreement with the RFF personally. “We support the Festival. We don’t want it to go away,” he said.

Watson then instructed acting City Manager (and Police Chief) Roger Parent to meet with the city’s department heads to create a plan of action to remove and/or replace the logos within 45 days.

On Friday morning, Mayor Watson advised Chief Parent to remove and collect, not destroy, all the decals, stickers and other paraphernalia that could be removed, because he wanted to offer items to the Festival that didn’t not say City of Cedar Springs on them. One item, the plaque that hung in City Hall, was destroyed, before Watson was able to clarify his earlier instruction. That item, however, would not have been offered, since it said “City of Cedar Springs” on it. Watson made the offer to the RFF, for them to pay what they think is reasonable for items, and that the money would then go to the library fundraising committee. Festival President Michele Andres said that her board would consider that next week. Items such as street signs will be covered for with another sticker for the time being, until a new logo is developed. Wooden signs, such as the Riggle and Morley Park signs will routered down. Decals have already been taken off city trucks.

When the news hit that the City would no longer be using the logo, it caused extreme emotional reactions from citizens on both sides of the issue. Many citizens have questioned how much each side is spending on legal fees. According to the Festival, whose donations are down by about $16,000, they have spent about $3,500 in legal fees, with more being donated by their law firms. The City has spent about $6,350 trying to fight the logo issue.

The Red Flannel Festival issued a press release saying they were saddened by the City’s decision but that they respected it. Andres said she wishes it would have turned out differently. “We always give permission when people ask to use our logo, but they have to ask,” she said. “We got hung up on waiving the rights. The board was uncomfortable with giving up our brand and identity. If they had asked to use the logo, and just said we can’t give you any money for it, instead of asking us to waive our rights, it might have turned out differently.”

Mayor will not run again

A recall campaign led by an unhappy city resident has prompted Mayor Charlie Watson to make public that he will not seek a Mayor nomination again this November, nor will he seek reelection at the end of his term in November.

“It’s not because of what has taken place, but it does make my decision easier,” he said.

Watson said he initially planned to make the announcement in November, when it was time to nominate a new Mayor. “No one else on the council has that experience, and I wanted to give someone else a chance to be Mayor for a year, especially with a new City Manager coming in, so they have time to ask me questions if needed,” explained Watson.

He said he revealed this now because he had been asked about the recall, and he thought it would be a convenient time to let people know. “If people are truly considered about fiscal expenses, it doesn’t make any sense to hold a special election, if I’m only going to be here for a few month after the recall anyway.”

The earliest a recall election could be held is February.

Watson is in his 7th year on the Council.

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25 Responses to “City to no longer use Red Flannel logo”

  1. Vicky T says:

    So what is Cedar Springs known for now then…the town with the most dollar and automotive parts stores?

  2. STEVE HOROWITZ says:

    HEY WE’RE GETTING A NEW CITY MANAGER AND IF SHE OR HE READS DALE CARNEGIE’S BOOK ” HOW TO WIN FRIENDS AND INFUENCE PEOPLE WE WILL BE MAKING ONE GIANT STEP INTO THE CEDAR CREEK.

  3. Lisa V says:

    No Vicky, they will continue to be known as the town with the drug laden trailer park, tatoo parlors and bars…oh, that has an awesome party once a year in October…sad…I love our town but we seem to be growing in the craziest directions!

  4. tom ciganick says:

    its pretty sad when government agencies seek out to extort monies from small communities this is totally outrageous….what has America become

  5. WhatAMess says:

    Adding to Vicky… Yes, w/in a 4 mile radius, and liquor. We are going to be known as the drunks who fix our own cars and decorate our yards w/plastic flowers.

  6. Jim P says:

    It can still be red flannels, it just has to look different. I suggeest we use the back view of the red flannels with the panel down!

  7. Jim P says:

    Or, maybe we pay the $4000 to the RFF and then charge them $4000 for the parade permit!
    ARE THEY RETARDED?!?!?!?!?

  8. Sheila says:

    Shame on all involved ….the City and the Festival.

  9. I’m sad that the RFF folks forced the City into this decision. Unfortunately it’s the best decision our City Council could make at this time.

    So upward and onward! A new logo for the City, and a new cooperation with the RFF. I still love Cedar Springs and believe its best days are still to come!

  10. J. Erickson says:

    Cedar Springs is known as the Meth town

  11. Trisha Dart says:

    This is crazy. Are we repainting the water tower again? It has the logo on it and it’s property of the City of Cedar Springs right? I pay my water bill to the city. The city has been using the logo forever. The RFF needs to get over themselves.

  12. Ron Peddington says:

    Ok Judy, it’s time for some investigative reporting. How much has the city spent on this fight so far? How much is it going to cost to remove all these logos.

    I hope they are tracking every minute and dollar spent on this. The RFF is costing the city tons of monty for this stupid fight over paying for what they need to pay for. The RFF is a business that makes money. Why they think they deserve a hand out from a tight budgeted city I don’t know.

    Just think, this all started because the city billed the RFF $8046.00 instead of the $8000 they had a contract for. All this stupidity over $46.00. The city and the RFF should be ashamed of themselves.

    We won’t forget this Mr. Mayor. This is your fault just as much as the RFF.

  13. Lindsey Magoon says:

    Cedar Springs has always been a small town where you can’t drive down Main Street without seeing someone that you know. It sounds, to me, as though this is turning Cedar into a divided town. I suppose I just don’t understand why the committee decided to bring this up all of a sudden. If they love the city they represent, then why are they doing this? We are known for our red flannel underwear. We- as in, our city. It’s crazy to me how a handful of people could try to ruin what our city has built up for years.

  14. ShelbyH says:

    I must say that this is really sad. I have been part of the CS band since 6th grade. I loved being part of this towns history and especially the Red Flannel Festival. I loved marching onto Main St.on Red Flannel Day and seeing the sea of red. Those moments always took my breath away. It made me feel proud to represent this town and all it has accomplished. It was amazing that one town could bring together so many people to share in the joy. Now what? What does Cedar Springs have to be proud of? What are people going to know us for? A small town just off of 131 with a few stop lights and bars? Those who knew us as the Red Flannel town will always know us as that, but its sad for those who don’t, and never will. Can’t anything just stay the same anymore? Why can’t people just mind their own business and leave our town alone?!

  15. Molly says:

    What is truly sad about this is that the city had many offers on the table, but could not get their pride out of the way. They had to be right, and they decided the Festival had to be wrong. In years past the city has written off about $5700 in cost for the festival, but they charged the festival $8000 this last year. They are inflating the cost to make money from the festival. The mayor argues that this is about fiscal responsibility, but how much do you think it will cost to remove all of those logos and create a new one? Not to mention the estimated million, yes $1,000,000, impact on the community that the Red Flannel Festival brings in every year. Mayor Watson is acting in the best interest of his pride, not the community, and not the taxpayers!

  16. Dawn says:

    I dont think they will have near the turn out! My family wont be there!!!!

  17. ALICIA says:

    I can’t believe this. How ridiculous. That logo has been used for so long and now……really and yes what about the water tower? Pettiness, complete pettiness, greed and power trip. This is sad to say the least.

  18. As long as I can remember. Cedar Springs has always been known as Red Flannel Town. And the Red Flannel Festival. My children and their children know this too! Take this away and it will not be the same without our Red Flannel Underwear hanging off the street post. Has anyone ever read the history of how we became the Red Flannel Town? Now you take away our history! This is a sad day!!!

  19. joey says:

    another embarrassing story for the town i live in.can anything be resolved in this little town.if it aint trailer park problems or infighting between solon and cedar this just lowered my chances of selling my house once a cedartucky always a cedartucky thanks for all the bad publicity.

  20. Novia Doyle says:

    This is quite disappointing! My great-Grandmother, Ethel Louise Doyle, would be heartbroken. She and Nina Babcock were a couple of the originating (& outspoken!) women who helped make and market the flannels that built that town! No matter what modern day merchants are on Main Street, or how many drug-laden trailer parks, drunken mechanics or stinky little refineries; Cedar Springs is a town, on the map, as a result of Red Flannels.
    The idea that the RFF has threatened to sue the City for Copyright Infringement is absolutely contrary to “a more positive relationship.” — seriously, Pat Capeck?!?
    Unbelievable.

  21. Doc says:

    What if Ford decided to file a copyright on the word “car” as applied to an automobile? Could they then go and charge every other auto maker $4000 if they called their automibiles “cars?” Cedar Springs has aleays been an old-fashioned town – one of its charms – so maybe some old-fashioned descriptions apply toi this mess. How about “cutting off your nose to spite your face,” or “throwing the baby out with the bathwater,” or “killing the goose that laid the golden egg…”

  22. Bob says:

    Crazy is all I can say. Maybe if the city had just told the RFF board thanks and we appreciate the fact that because of you our town exists. Everything would have been ok.HA HA HA… If it was not for Cedar Springs the unnamed (I wish I could name names) RFF board wouldn’t have a town to alienate.The festival is for the people and the RFF needs to remember that. In today’s economy, to not charge the festival for all that the city does would mean cutting a job or some benefits to some or all of their employees, which should not happen.The RFF board needs to pull their heads out and just be happy to have a festival to bring to the people.

  23. katie says:

    Spending taxpayers’ dollars on this ridiculous fight any longer would have been irresponsible. The Council, minus one member who seemingly suggested ignoring state law at a recent public meeting, was forced to make this difficult decision to protect taxpayers. RFF board can thank themselves for this mess. Throwing a hissy fit, after being told they would have to support themselves this year due to tight finances, got Cedar Springs yet another black eye. My family won’t be attending the festival this year, we’ll support local business but won’t be buying sweatshirts, mugs, etc. to support a festival that took our name away.

  24. Charlie Watson says:

    Thank you to all who have taken the time to post a comment. I know how much Cedar Springs and the Red Flannel Festival mean to you all. I would encourage everyone to support our festival, it is very important to our community. I would also invite any and all of you to contact me and ask the questions that you would like to ask, I will do my best to give you the most honest answer I can. You also should take the time to talk to the festival board, to give them equal opportunity to answer your questions. I look forward to hearing from you.
    Charlie Watson, Mayor of Cedar Springs
    (616)437-9839

  25. Robert Harwood says:

    you all should be ashamed for taking the logo we so long have had what you all doing thinking of your selfs and you need to re evaliate your decisions we need to keep the red flannels logo

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