April 3, 2019

The terrazzo floor at Marathon City Hall features the city logo.

File The terrazzo floor at Marathon City Hall features the city logo.

MARATHON — Marathon City Councilman Mark Senmartin has trademarked the city’s logo, following his fellow councilmen’s refusal to canonize it as the official city seal.

Senmartin now owns the logo and gave the city a 30-day cease-and-desist notice at the March 26 council meeting.

Senmartin said his decision to trademark the logo came from his disbelief about the council not adopting it as the city seal at its March 12 meeting. Afterward, he made an analogy that people “hijack your computer with malware all the time and then you have to pay to get your records back” and leaving the logo unprotected could have similar ramifications.

After figuring out the trademarking procedure and spending $87.50 online, he was the logo’s owner.

At last week’s meeting, Senmartin said the council’s refusal to adopt the seal could lead to the expense of “hundreds of thousands of dollars” to remove it from city buildings, vehicles, uniforms, letterhead and koozie cup holders. He introduced a discussion item entitled “city’s clarification of seal” saying he had tried to get the city to adopt the design so “it could not be abused in the future.”

He said there had been a problem in the past with people using it illegally, referencing it had been used in political campaigns. He then chose to prove his points by registering the logo as a trademark with the State of Florida.

At the March 12 meeting, Councilman Dan Zieg shared his view that an official seal was unnecessary. There was no one impersonating a code enforcement officer wearing a city seal on his shirt, he had said, and no citations ever issued for erroneous use. Mayor John Bartus said the logo should be made the official seal but never actually voted on the measure due to a procedural glitch. Nevertheless, the adoption measure failed due to Zieg, Vice Mayor Steven Cook and Councilman Luis Gonzalez declining to codify the seal.

Cook was absent during last week’s meeting due to family health issues that took him out of town.

Senmartin, the longest consecutively serving councilperson since the city’s incorporation in 1999, has no prediction what will transpire at the Tuesday, April 9, meeting when the council is set to hear input from City Attorney David Migut on options at this point.

Senmartin made an offer at last week’s meeting that the council buy the trademark from him for $1 plus cost. Migut addressed the item at the time referencing Senmartin’s official and individual capacities.

“I’ll look into it from the vantage of interests of the city,” he said. “If you will provide me with a copy of [the trademark registration], I could give an update.”

Use of the city logo became an issue before the last election because Zieg endorsed then Marathon Mayor and Monroe County Commission candidate Michelle Coldiron from the Marathon City Council dais with the city logo clearly visible. The Monroe County State Attorney’s Office investigated the issue and ruled there was no criminal wrongdoing because the logo had never been made the official seal.

State Attorney Dennis Ward recommended the city council adopt the logo as the official city seal.

The logo of the Seven Mile Bridge, Sombrero Key Lighthouse, blue ocean and a sunset was based upon a design by a student in 2000 when the city and its first five elected officials held a logo design contest, and subsequently unanimously agreed on the logo. Bartus served on that first council and previously stated there never was legal advice to make the design official.

A slightly different design is currently in use by the Marathon Fire Department.

Senmartin said he hopes the upcoming council meeting will lead to resolution on the seal. Bartus said after the meeting he does not think the logo will go out for redesign at this point, adding there are more important matters such as Federal Emergency Management Agency hurricane reimbursement and 50/50 property takings cases that are of much greater consequence.