Group agrees not to use seal in pro-megaload ads

By ELAINE WILLIAMS of the Tribune | Thursday, June 23, 2011, 12:00 am

Western Legacy Alliance has agreed not to use the Idaho state seal in promotions after a citizen questioned the group’s use of the emblem in newspaper ads supporting megaloads.

The state seal appears at the top of the ad that says, in part, that “across Idaho, local leaders and civic organizations had voiced their support for the Highway 12 plan. Now, it’s time to turn this plan … into reality.”

The ad ran one day in every daily newspaper in Idaho, including the Lewiston Tribune, said Ken Burgess, a spokesman for Drive Our Economy, whose website is listed as a resource in the ad.

A citizen saw the ad in the Idaho Statesman and emailed the Idaho secretary of state’s office, the branch of government that serves as the guardian of the state seal, said Miren Artiach, deputy secretary of state in Boise. “His question was if it was copyrighted or had trademark protection.”

Her office submitted information to the Western Legacy Alliance in the “contact us” portion of its website, describing the state’s guidelines about how the seal should appear, Artiach said.

The guidelines require the seal to be used unaltered, in good taste and in ways that don’t mistakenly convey an affiliation with, endorsement of or sponsorship by, the state of Idaho, Artiach said. “This office has no authority because there is no state statute. We are kind of caught in the middle.”

Typically, groups respond to such correspondence from the secretary of state in the way that Western Legacy Alliance is – agreeing to suspend their use of the seal even though the agency has no enforcement authority on the matter, Artiach said.

Western Legacy Alliance wasn’t aware of the guidelines when the ads were composed, is sorry for what happened and won’t use the seal again, Burgess said. “There was no intention to show this had some sort of endorsement of the state of Idaho.”

The Western Legacy Alliance paid for the ads. The pro-ranching, southern Idaho group is a member of Drive Our Economy, which backs megaloads, Burgess said.

A call left for the Western Legacy Alliance wasn’t immediately returned.

Williams may be contacted at [email protected] or (208) 848-2261.