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Wyoming Objects to Horse Stamp

March 13, 2002

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) _ The image of a bucking bronco, with a hat-waving cowboy on its back, has been associated with Wyoming since before the car replaced the horse.

The Wyoming National Guard carried the symbol when it marched off to World War I. It has been on state license plates since 1936 and became a registered trademark in the 1970s.

So when the U.S. Postal Service chose a bucking horse, with a hat-waving cowboy on its back, to appear on Montana’s stamp in a 50-state commemorative series, Wyoming felt like rustlers had hit.

Secretary of State Joe Meyer filed an objection with Karla Corcoran, inspector general of the Postal Service.

``Using the Wyoming Bucking Horse & Rider trademark on a Montana stamp makes about as much sense as using the Texas Lone Star on a Louisiana stamp,″ Meyer protested.

But Meyer doesn’t want the Postal Service to scrap the stamp. Nor does he want the logo swapped to Wyoming’s stamp. He wants money _ ideally the 7.5 percent royalty that is charged those who sell items bearing the logo.

Al DeSarro, spokesman for the Postal Service western regional office in Denver, questions Meyer’s claim that the stamp constitutes a misuse of Wyoming’s trademark.

``It isn’t the same symbol,″ he said. ``It’s just a similar image.″

As for the Postal Service paying a royalty to Wyoming to use the Montana stamps: ``I don’t think so,″ he said Tuesday.

``We respect the secretary of state’s opinion and everything. But with all of these stamps there was a very careful selection process,″ he said. ``It’s going to be very popular and we’re going to proceed.″

Gayle Shirley, spokeswoman for Montana Secretary of State Bob Brown, said that after previewing the stamps on the Internet she can understand Meyer’s concern. But she noted the decision was not Montana’s.

``Certainly if we had anything to do with the decision we would have recognized the strong association people would have with Wyoming when they see the bucking horse and rider,″ she said. ``We’re sorry things reached this stage without getting resolved.″

The ``Greetings from America″ series of 34-cent stamps, which are modeled after 1940s-era postcards, is scheduled for release April 4. Each stamp has colorful illustration and is emblazoned with ``Greetings from ...″ followed by the name of a state.

Meyer said that state officials asked the Postal Service several times to use the bucking horse and rider for Wyoming’s stamp but never heard back from the agency.

``We didn’t know they were going to use it for some other state,″ he said. ``We cannot let a use by someone else occur without raising the objection that it’s ours.″

It is not the first time Meyer has ridden to the rescue of Wyoming’s cowboy symbol. He has threatened a handful of colleges and universities for using similar logos. In August, he persuaded McNeese State University, in Lake Charles, La., to alter its bucking horse and rider logo to reduce its resemblance to Wyoming’s.

The Postal Service said all the stamps were designed under independent contract by Richard Sheaff, of Scottsdale, Ariz., and were illustrated by Lonnie Busch, of Franklin, N.C. Sheaff referred all questions to the Postal Service.

``It was an extensive process,″ DeSarro said. ``I know that they consulted with, I think, tourist officials with the states and I think historians were involved.″

The stamps were printed last year. Instead of the silhouetted horse and rider, Wyoming’s stamp shows a pair of trophy elk with the Grand Tetons in the background.

New York’s stamp, which shows the New York City skyline, was reprinted to delete the World Trade Center, but DeSarro said that will not be allowed for Montana’s stamp because of the cost.

``We’re very proud of these beautiful images,″ he said.


On the Net:

Postal Service: http://www.usps.com

Wyoming Secretary of State: http://soswy.state.wy.us/

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