Minnesota City Sues Former Firefighter Over Use of Photo

A Minnesota city is suing a former firefighter to stop him from marketing himself as a city firefighter and using of a photo depicting him in turnout gear to promote a non-profit business.

The City of Woodbury filed suit last week against former Woodbury firefighter William Braun accusing him of false advertising, consumer fraud and trademark infringement. The suit claims that Braun identifies himself as a Woodbury firefighter in marketing materials for EdQuest Inc. and a web site, FirePrevented.org. Here is the photo in question.

Here's the photo that former Woodbury firefighter William Braun posted on his website for his nonprofit company, EdQuest Inc. (From FirePrevented.org)

The city claims that because Braun is no longer a firefighter for the Woodbury Fire Department, his identification as a Woodbury firefighter is illegal and should be enjoined. Braun, who served as a paid-on call Woodbury firefighter, resigned on October 8, 2015. He also ran unsuccessfully for city council in 2014.

The lawsuit also alleges the photo belongs to the city, and Braun used it without permission. The city is asking for a court order barring him from using “Woodbury Fire Fighter” or “Woodbury Firefighter/EMT” in his marketing materials.

More on the story.

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 45 years of fire service experience and 35 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, 4th ed. 2022) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.

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