Tulsa Christmas Parade clears up any confusion

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Early in 2011, Tulsan Josh McFarland, disappointed that the traditional downtown Christmas parade had dropped the word "Christmas" from its name, felt impelled to take action and setup an alternative parade, a parade unembarrassed to acknowledge that "the reason for the season" is the commemoration of the birth of Jesus Christ -- a Christmas parade.

McFarland turned to KFAQ talk personality Eddie Huff to help organize and promote the event. Huff brought friend and fellow insurance agent Mark Croucher into the organizing group. In order to formalize the effort and to cover any potential liability issues involved in holding a parade, the group formed a Domestic Limited Liability Company, Tulsa Christmas Parade LLC, registered on October 3, 2011. (Setting up an LLC is quicker and much less complicated than creating a non-profit organization; the disadvantage is that donations are not tax deductible.) All surplus proceeds after parade expenses were met were given to Love Heals Veterans Recovery Center.

According to multiple reports, the parade was successful, drawing a large number of participants and massive attendance, and Tulsa Christmas Parade LLC is making preparations for the second edition of the parade this December.

Their efforts have been complicated by the alleged actions of a former volunteer, according to a press release from Tulsa Christmas Parade LLC issued last Thursday, September 20, 2012. The release alleges that this former volunteer has been claiming to represent the parade, to solicit and collect money for the parade, without any authorization from Tulsa Christmas Parade LLC. So to respond to the problem, the group sent out a press release explaining who is authorized to act on the parade's behalf.

Contact: joshalanmcfarland@gmail.com

Christmas Parade Organizers Warn of Imposter

Former volunteer is misrepresenting Christmas Parade

Tulsa, OK Sept 19, 2012 - Josh McFarland, founder and one of the organizers of the Tulsa Christmas Parade, is warning Tulsa businesses to beware of a former volunteer claiming to be organizing the parade this year.

"It is sad that someone who worked with us last year has decided to go on his own, claiming to represent the Christmas Parade, which he has no legal authority to do so," said McFarland.

"We've even had reports that this person has already solicited and in one case collected money from a business" continued McFarland. "And we need to let the Tulsa business community know who exactly is running the Tulsa Christmas Parade."

McFarland explained that members of the Tulsa Christmas Parade board are seeking a legal remedy to stop the actions of the former volunteer.

"However, we felt the need to let the public know before anyone else gives money to this person instead of to the Christmas Parade," said McFarland. McFarland encourages any businesses who have been contacted by someone saying they are from the Tulsa Christmas Parade to contact him at 918-706-6787 immediately.

The Tulsa Christmas Parade is made up of a three-person board that wanted to give Tulsans the option of attending a Christmas Parade after the dismantling of the name "Christmas" in the former downtown parade. Last year 100% of the remaining proceeds were gifted to the Love Heals Veterans Recovery Center, a shelter for substance abusive veterans. Josh McFarland, Mark Croucher, and Eddie Huff are the members of the The Tulsa Christmas Parade board.

It's a sad fact that taking defensive action, as the Tulsa Christmas Parade LLC board has done, may make you look like the bad guy. Good grief, some will say, you're threatening a lawsuit over who's in charge of a Christmas parade! But if someone is trying to misrepresent himself and trade on the goodwill that last year's event accrued, the parade organizers may have to take action to protect the name and reputation of the event.

There's a principle of trademark law called "likelihood of confusion." (That phrase also happens to be the name of the Internet's smartest blog about intellectual property law.) If someone previously associated in a prominent way with an organization, but who has resigned from that organization and no longer acts with the organization's authority, solicits money and support for a similar sounding organization with a similar purpose -- well, I am not a lawyer, but it sounds to me like a situation in which confusion is likely. It's wise and reasonable for Tulsa Christmas Parade LLC to take action to forestall any confusion that would damage the goodwill and reputation of the parade.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on September 23, 2012 2:58 PM.

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