- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 4, 2004

CHEYENNE, Wyo. - The silhouette of a bucking horse with lowered head, kicking rear legs and a hat-waving cowboy aboard is everywhere in Wyoming: the license plate, University of Wyoming gear, the carpet in the governor’s office.

But if you’re not authorized to display the bucking horse, beware.

Secretary of State Joe Meyer and Gov. Dave Freudenthal, a Democrat, have asked the Legislature to front $1 million to wage a legal battle with the Texas Stampede, a Dallas organization that holds an annual rodeo for children’s medical charities, if it does not stop using the logo. Lawmakers will consider the proposal when they meet next month.

“It represents Wyoming,” summed up Mr. Meyer, a former attorney general and University of Wyoming roommate with Vice President Dick Cheney.

“There is such a pride of ownership in all the citizens of this state. UW has used it forever. Certainly our troops over in Iraq have it on their uniforms. It’s simply us.”

The Texas Stampede filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office a few months ago for ownership of the logo. Wyoming opposed the filing. The Texas Stampede, which was established in 2001, responded by saying Wyoming had abandoned the mark.

The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board is not expected to rule on the matter for another six months. Wyoming could take the matter to federal court if it disagrees with the ruling or before then, in which case the board likely would defer to the judge in the case.

The Texas Stampede and Wyoming logos are virtually identical. The only difference is the Texas Stampede logo faces left and the Wyoming logo right, and the Texas Stampede cowboy wears chaps.

A Texas Stampede spokeswoman declined to comment.

Ted Stevenson, a patent and trademark lawyer in Dallas, is not as confident as Mr. Meyer that Wyoming has a case. He explains that there are two types of trademark cases: infringement and dilution.

“In an infringement case, you’ve got to prove that consumers are confused. I don’t think it’s likely that anyone going to the Texas Stampede is confused and thinks it has to do with Wyoming because of the logo,” he said last week.

Making a dilution case requires a logo to be famous. “Like Coca-Cola all over the world almost,” he said.

“It may be famous within the state of Wyoming,” he said. “But probably outside I think they would have a very hard time proving they have a famous mark.”

Wyoming doesn’t necessarily have a problem with people using the bucking horse logo. It just wants people to get permission.

As of December, 593 businesses had agreements with the state to use the logo. Although the agreements do not cost anything, they usually are not awarded outside Wyoming and proposals must be submitted for review.

Another 126 businesses in Wyoming and 17 outside the state were licensed to use the logo in their products. The licenses also are free but are subject to both approval and a 6.5 percent royalty for businesses in Wyoming and a 7.5 percent royalty for businesses outside the state.

Mr. Meyer says Wyoming earned more than $100,000 in royalties last year.

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