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New West candidates draw the ire of city hall for use of crown

A trio of Royal City residents may have picked the wrong crown to deal with during the recent civic election.
An envelope containing brochures of three local candidates in the 2014 election has prompted city hall to consult with its lawyers about possible trademark infringement.

A trio of Royal City residents may have picked the wrong crown to deal with during the recent civic election.

As part of the 2014 civic election campaign, mayoral candidate James Crosty and councillor candidates Gavin Palmer and Scott McIntosh sent out brochures in an envelope bearing an image of a crown above the words New Westminster. The envelope read: “PLEASE OPEN – Important Election Documents. Information you should know before you vote November 15th, 2014.”

Blair Fryer, the city’s manager of communications and economic development, said the crown logo shown on the envelope is immediately recognizable locally as representing the City of New Westminster and was trademarked in 2010.

“Currently the issue is with our solicitors,” he said. “From the city’s perspective, at this point the election may be over, but it is still necessary to ensure these candidates are aware of the trademark infringement and they understand that we do take this issue very seriously.”

Fryer said the elections office informed him on the afternoon of Friday, Nov. 14 that it had received a couple of complaints earlier in the morning that elections staff had forwarded to Elections B.C. Elections B.C. informed the city the issue around trademark infringement was for the city to address.

“Later in the day the elections office came to me and said they had received many phone calls and emails over the course of the day from people either asking if it was from the city and the elections office, either that or calling to complain that when they received it in the mail they believed it was official communication and when they opened it up and candidate information spilled out they were quite upset about that,” he said. “I immediately spoke to our solicitors and asked them to look into what avenues the city has and recourse the city has for this.”

Although the election is over and the mailout appeared to have no impact on the results, Fryer said the city has to ensure that the city logo and brand is presented in a positive and professional manner at all times. The issue caused considerable debate among local residents on Twitter.

“The crown is an essential part of the city logo,” he said. “Essentially what was done, the crown icon which is a key feature of the city logo was used on the cover of a mailing that led to many residents thinking it was official communications from the City of New Westminster.”

According to Fryer, the city received trademark certificates for the crown icon as well as the crown icon with the words New Westminster below it.

“We certainly would like to get our solicitors to inform us as to the best approach on this,” he said. “Whether the election is over or not, it is important for us that our city logo and brand be presented in a professional way at all times, and when people see that logo and brand, they understand it is communicating official communications from the City of New Westminster.”

Both Crosty and Palmer told The Record they had no comment about the use of the crown. McIntosh couldn’t be reached for comment before deadline.