Gables officials to seek trademark for slogan
By Risa Polansky
Coral Gables has called itself The City Beautiful for 73 years, and city officials are taking steps to ensure that they can continue to use the slogan.
Gables officials are preparing to apply for a federal trademark of the slogan to protect it from encroachment by any other city that also uses it - such as Orlando, which has called itself The City Beautiful for almost 100 years.
"We as a commission approved to go forward on getting a trademark for the slogan," said Coral Gables Mayor Donald Slesnick. "It's the name we have for ourselves, and we'd like to protect it."
City officials are "gathering the remainder of the documents that we need to provide showing the use of the term 'The City Beautiful' by the city since its incorporation," said Assistant City Manager Dona Lubin. "As far as when we will know, it may take several months to receive an answer from the US Trademark Office."
A trademark would give Coral Gables officials the right to use the phrase "indefinitely" as long as they use the trademark seal, Ms. Lubin said.
The intent, Mr. Slesnick said, is not to prohibit other cities from using the phrase but to defend the Gables' right to it.
"We've been burned so many times before by people claiming they own something," Mr. Slesnick said. "It would be good to make sure no one could take this away from us or hold us hostage for it. It's practically our second name."
The city several years ago was forced to purchase the Internet domain coralgables.com from a person who had registered and owned the rights to it. Applying for a trademark for the city's slogan, Mr. Slesnick said, is an effort to avoid a similar situation.
An Orlando official said that city has used the slogan for nearly a century and would defend its right to use it.
"The City of Orlando can currently document use of 'The City Beautiful' as part of our trademark since 1908," said Orlando City Attorney Jody Litchford. "Others have indicated it might be longer, but additional research needs to be done to verify. The phrase is used regularly by citizens and employees. In fact, in 1972, (astronaut) John Young signed a letter to the City of Orlando and called Orlando 'The City Beautiful.'"
She said Orlando officials would "take whatever steps are legally appropriate to ensure our ability to continue to use 'The City Beautiful.'"
Mr. Slesnick said that would not be necessary. "It's not our intention to prohibit others from using it. It's not like us, not our goal at all. We'd be disappointed if this leads to Orlando getting upset.
"We use it constantly and consistently," Mr. Slesnick said. "And we don't want one day to wake up and find we've been prohibited from using it."