My sign printer was a sitting councillor, Howard Moscoe, and the company he represented, Adanac. His idea to have a picture of city hall graphic instead of words 'Elect' and 'Councillor' was really quite brilliant. He didn’t tell me he was lifting the design from the city’s Millennium logo. This was in 1999. It was a summer by-election in Scarborough wards 43 and 44.
Before I even received my sign order from the printer, I received a call from the city clerk’s office saying they had had a complaint about them. No, they would not release the name of the complainant, but they wanted to see samples of my materials. Soon after, I was told to scrap my signs and literature ($11,000) and cease and desist using the little logo. I took time out of campaigning to go to City Hall to be served with a formal letter signed by Clerk Novina Wong and copied to six different senior staffers.
The letter said if I won the by-election, the city would attribute the outcome to my use of the logo and would be forced to hold a new by-election. The letter left no guessing. The city would come after me in court for the cost of a new by-election, the Clerk stated.
“For your information the cost of holding a by-election is between $165,000 and $200,000.”
This was in reaction to a minor and totally innocent trademark infringement issue. There was no law against putting the city hall logo on an election sign at that time. The city’s sign by-law was changed later that year to add what I still dub “the Sheila Clause”, prohibiting the use of the city logo on candidates’ election materials.
Never understood until now why I kept that letter. I can wave it around and make the point that Rob Ford should pay for his own mayoral by-election, if the city must have one. For his information, the cost of a new by-election is in the range of $7 million.
What's fair for the goose ... ?