Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Flag This! (Part 2)

Denver City Flag
Madison Campaign Literature

Years ago I worked in a trademark law office in Washington, D.C. It was my job to see if our clients’ proposed trademark was “confusingly similar” to existing trademarks. In those days it was a manual search, looking through “boots” of paper registrations. One had to be very careful with the use of symbols and signs.

So it was with interest that I first noticed Madison’s use of the Denver City Flag in all of her campaign materials and yard signs. I figured they wouldn’t be stupid enough to just appropriate the City flag without permission or acknowledgement. Its use seemed to me to be “confusing” in the sense that it looked like a subtle City endorsement of the Madison campaign.


From: Gerald Trumbule
Sent: Tuesday, April 17, 2007 12:36 PM
To: Lynn Kimbrough
Subject: Denver City Flag

Can you direct me to any ordinances or rules governing the use of the Denver City Flag in advertising? See http://www.denverdirect.blogspot.com/. Thanks for the info.

Gerald Trumbule


Mr. Trumbule, I don’t have this information, but have asked my colleagues in the Mayor’s Office to find the right person to help. They should contact you soon.

Lynn Kimbrough
Communications Director
Denver DA's Office
201 West Colfax Avenue, Dept. 801
Denver, Colorado 80202


From: Sargeson, Stacey L. - OED
To: Gerald Trumbule
Sent: Friday, April 20, 2007 4:36 PM
Subject: Denver City Flag

Mr. Trumbule,
I wanted to get back to your regarding your inquiry on rules or ordinances in regards to the Denver City flag.

I checked with our attorneys and although there are currently no ordinances in place regarding use of the City flag, we do have common law rights. Therefore, the use of the City flag by private persons or entities for non-City purposes is strongly discouraged. If the City has not granted permission for use of the flag, we will ask those using the City flag to cease and desist use or, alternatively, print the following language near the depiction of the flag:

"Use of the City flag is done without permission of the City and County of Denver. The City and County of Denver is in no way associated with this business (or individual as the case may be) and the City in no way endorses, approves, nor sponsors the products and services referenced in this publication."

Thank you for your email.


Stacey Rohrer
Denver Marketing Office
City and County of Denver

From: Gerald Trumbule
Sent: Friday, April 20, 2007 4:52 PM
To: Sargeson, Stacey L. - OED
Subject: Denver City Flag

Thanks for your reply. I guess my next question is: Does the Madison campaign have specific permission to use the City flag as indicated here:
http://denverdirect.blogspot.com/2007/04/flag-this.html without the language you specify. And if not, should the City issue a cease and desist order.

Thanks for looking into this.

Gerald Trumbule


To my knowledge, they do not have permission. Vicki Ortega and I are going to place a call to the Madison campaign staff early next week. Thank you for bringing this to our attention and we will definitely follow up.




  1. Anonymous2:13 PM

    Gee, maybe you can get politicians to stop using the American flag in their promotional materials too.

  2. Actually, I'm not trying to get anybody to do anything, just reporting the result of my inquiries. But I did think about the use of the US flag as well, and I don't know if there are any US rules about its use, as it seems to appear everywhere, and we can even burn it if we want.

    I actually thought the Madison campaign's use of the Denver flag was very effective as a graphic. Many people I talked to said it seemed familiar but didn't immediately recognize it.

  3. Anonymous11:48 AM

    Yeah, right, all you were trying to do is report the results of your inquiries. That's why you went to so much trouble not only to report the Madison group on their use of the icon, but then post it on your blog.

    Next up... an in-depth investigation into whether Denver Direct has the city's permission to use the name "Denver" in its title..."

    Good grief. This isn't newsworthy... then again, neither is most of what ends up in the Denver Post. Maybe you have a future in journalism after all...

  4. Steve:

    Thanks for the comment. It really wasn’t much trouble … a couple of emails and a little cut and paste.

    Newsworthy? Steve, what is newsworthy on a blog? You see, there’s no editorial board here, just me, musing away. Is that news?

    Did you see the City flag in the Madison graphics when you first saw it? I’m just curious.

  5. Anonymous7:50 AM

    Congratulations, Mr. Trumbule.

    No doubt your continued efforts to ruin Ms. Madison's election prospects stole some votes--Which in turn might have ended up for Ms. Bailey--allowing clearly misguided voters to elect the "worst case scenario", Sharon Bailey to District 8.

    I know it's hard to believe, but I have a fear she's even going to be WORSE than Elbra Wedgeworth was in terms of approachability and accountability.

    And with allegations of her husband making physical threats to someone calling him out on illegally placing campaign signs (see denverpolitics.blogspot.com), it doesn't speak well for her integrity at all.

    Too late now, we're stuck with her.

    Oh, and for the record, no, I didn't see (or if I did I didn't care) about the Denver flag in the Madison campaign materials. I was much more focused on the actual issues at hand.

  6. Steve,

    As this was my first time actively participating and following the Denver elections, I also thought in seeing the election results that it was a done deal that Ms. Bailey was our new councilwoman in district 8--Fortunately for both of us, as my wife pointed out, since no candidate garnered over 50% of the vote (please someone correct me here if I have it incorrect) there will be a run-off between Bailey and Madison, sometime as late as June?

    So, good news, there still is time to help voters see the many red flags that surround Ms. Bailey in my opinion, including the allegations you mention. (And time for Mr. Trumbule to highlight more information he'd clearly like voters to consider with Ms. Madison.