Irked by the Marathon City Council’s refusal to adopt a formal city seal, Councilman Mark Senmartin trademarked it with the state Division of Corporations. He announced his ownership at the council meeting on March 26. The news was met with stunned silence.

Senmartin said he did it to illustrate a point.

“This is not about some one impersonating a city code enforcement officer. This is about someone doing exactly what I did and holding the city hostage for $10,000,” he said, referring to either a nefarious character shaking down the city to buy back its own seal, or the cost of rebranding the city with a new seal including signage, shirts, letterhead, etc. “My intention is to protect the seal.”

“I will say that if the city and council wish to revisit [the seal issue] and come up with a better solution, I would be willing to sell my trademark to the city for one dollar plus costs,” he said. Senmartin told the Weekly it cost him $87.50 to register the trademark. 

The rest of Senmartin’s colleagues, and city staff, were clearly taken by surprise. Mayor John Bartus asked for City Attorney David Migut’s opinion.

“If you will provide me with the documentation, I will look into it,” Migut told Senmartin. “I will brief the council 14 days from today.”

Senmartin set a deal deadline for the council — 30 days.

The discussion about the city seal arose out of a disagreement between Councilman Dan Zieg and Senmartin soon after the most recent election, regarding the use, or display, of a city seal in campaign endorsements and ads. Formally adopting a city seal is one way to control its use, according to Migut.

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Sara Matthis thinks community journalism is important, but not serious; likes weird and wonderful children (she has two); and occasionally tortures herself with sprint-distance triathlons, but only if she has a good chance of beating her sister.