PULLMAN, Wash. — Washington State University has asked Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers’ campaign to stop using its trademarked phrase ‘Go Cougs.’
McMorris Rodgers' campaign handed out flyers during home football games at the school.They included a McMorris Rodgers campaign logo, the WSU football schedule and the words ‘Go Cougs.’
WSU Vice President of Marketing and Communications Phil Weiler said this is not the first time they have sent a letter to a political campaign to tell them to stop using their trademarked material. He said they’ve sent similar notices to Lisa Brown’s campaign as well as a Whitman County judge. Weiler said it’s never really a ‘big deal,’ he thinks most candidates know not to use the school’s trademarks, but their staffer might not.
KREM 2 spoke with McMorris Rodgers’ Campaign Manager Jared Powell Friday morning. At about 11 a.m., he said the campaign had not received a letter from the university and he had read about it in the WSU student newspaper, the Daily Evergreen. Powell said if they would have just reached out, they would have immediately rectified the situation.
Weiler then shared the letter with KREM around 12:30 p.m. He said since the hard copy letter was just posted, he doubted that they had seen it yet.
The letter read:
Dear Ms. McMorris Rodgers,
Washington State University (WSU) has been made aware that the Cathy for Congress campaign has used the phrase “Go Cougs” in campaign literature distributed at a recent WSU football game. The term “Go Cougs” is a trademark of Washington State University.
As you know, state laws prohibit the use of state resources in connection with a political campaign. (See RCW 42.52.180 (Use of public resources for political campaigns)). While I have no information to suggest your campaign flyer violated any laws, these laws reflect an important public policy of neutrality for state agencies in political matters. This is particularly important for WSU, given the university’s broad mission to serve all Washingtonians and our need to work with elected officials from across the political spectrum.
As Washington State University has requested of other political candidates, I am writing to ask that you refrain from using WSU trademarks and logos in connection with your campaign and that you cease the use of any materials that currently include WSU marks.
Thank you for your understanding.
Tanya Riordan, with Lisa Brown’s campaign, said a similar thing happened with their campaign over the summer. She said the university contacted the campaign over an ad that featured a supporter and an eastern Washington farmer wearing a WSU hat. Riordan explained that they had not technically done anything wrong but they did not want the university to feel 'uncomfortable.'
"We have always respected WSU’s guidelines on the use of its logo, as well as requirements of state law. We are proud that many WSU alumni, students, and supporters are excited about our campaign," Riordan said.