By Judy Reed
We received a lot of response to our story last week regarding a cease and desist letter the Red Flannel Festival sent to the Cedar Springs Area Chamber of Commerce regarding use of the Red Flannel Town, and Red Flannel Town, U.S.A. service marks.
The Red Flannel Festival trademarked it, but the Chamber also trademarked three taglines that incorporate the words Red Flannel Town in a longer phrase. When the Chamber organized the city’s annual holiday event this year, they named it “A Red Flannel Town Christmas, Come Mingle with Kris Kringle” and registered it in October, along with two other taglines, which were all approved by the state: A Red Flannel Town Christmas, and The Original Red Flannel Town, USA, Cedar Springs, MI.
The Red Flannel Festival shows they registered “The Red Flannel Town” on June 3, 2005, and “Red Flannel Town, U.S.A.” on June 27, 2011.
Chamber president Shawn Kiphart said they used the term because Cedar Springs has always been known as Red Flannel Town. The Red Flannel Festival said it’s a direct violation of their trademark rights, and it is likely to “cause confusion as to the source or sponsorship of Chamber materials and events.”
Kiphart didn’tagree. “Red Flannel Town is part of a larger title we use. We are referencing Cedar Springs. There is no confusion. I don’t think people think, ‘Oh, it’s the Red Flannel Festival,’ we believe they think of Cedar Springs.”
The Chamber sent a letter back asking for clarification and received one back from the Festival. Kiphart also asked the community to tell him what they want—to forget about using the logo and let the Festival use it only for them, or to fight for it. The responses we received, and that he received personally, were overwhelmingly in favor of letting the moniker identify the town itself.
Last Wednesday evening, the Red Flannel Board met to elect officers, and representatives from the Chamber board were there. Unofficial sources from both sides said there was some good discussion.
The Chamber was asked to put in writing to the Festival what they want, and they did so with a letter this week. In a nutshell, they are asking the Red Flannel Festival to let groups and businesses in Cedar Springs use the name “Red Flannel Town” to positively impact the town, without having to ask each time. You can read the letter in its entirety on page 12, along with what comments readers made on last week’s story.