Fire District Settles Trademark Infringement Suit With Union

A lawsuit filed by an Oregon fire district seeking to block the firefighter’s union from using the department’s trademarked and copyrighted logos, has been settled. The Mid-Columbia Fire & Rescue filed suit against Mid-Columbia Firefighters Association, IAFF Local 1308 last September.

The district sought an injunction to block the firefighters from using logos created by the same firm that created the district’s logos, because they “caused and continues to cause a likelihood of confusion or a misunderstanding as to the source, sponsorship, approval, or certification of its services that are advertised.”

According to the Dalles Chronical, the district’s concern was that use of the similar-looking logos by the union to endorse political candidates and/or support other initiatives could confuse the public into believing the fire district was supporting those candidates or initiatives. The district claimed a copyright and service mark in the logos under Oregon state law. No federal claims were made. The district also accused the union of unfair competition and unlawful trade practices. Here is a copy of the original complaint:

The firefighters countered that their use of the logo predated the district’s use. Last week the parties agreed to settle the dispute, with the union agreeing to stop using the disputed logos, and the district agreeing to dismiss the suit with each party being responsible for their own attorneys fees.

According to the Dalles Chronical, the parties also agreed to settle an unfair labor practice charge against the district for attempting to discuss collective bargaining matters with a firefighter who was not on the executive board. That settlement called for the district to pay each of 18 union members $1,000 each. More on the story.

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 40 years of fire service experience and 30 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.

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