Proposed casino can keep 'Grange' name for now

Proposed casino can keep 'Grange' name for now
National Grange President Ed Luttrell speaks to members at the Tigard Grange hall in Tigard, Ore., Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2012. Luttrell announced an agreement with proposed casino developers and their financial backers who were using the name “The Grange” for their project without authorization. (AP Photo/Don Ryan)

TIGARD, Ore. (AP) — Developers who want to build a casino outside Portland wanted to evoke a large central gathering place, so they called their project "The Grange."

They didn't count on angering the National Grange, a fraternal organization that threatened to file a lawsuit saying the name was trademarked.

Both parties said Wednesday they've reached a truce that will allow the project to be called "The Grange" until the November election, when voters will decide on two ballot measures that would authorize the casino. After that, if the ballot measures pass, the developers can drop the name or both parties can talk again about a longer-term licensing agreement.

Casino backers apologized, saying they should've asked for permission before using the name. They agreed to pay a fee to the National Grange and include a disclaimer on campaign materials saying National Grange is not affiliated with their project. Neither side would say how much the developers are paying to use the Grange name temporarily.

"Going forward, we are committed to ensuring that the public understands that Grange is a registered trademark of The National Grange and is not endorsed or affiliated in any way with our campaign," said Jeff Parr, co-chief executive of Clairvest Group Inc., a Toronto-based private equity firm that is a primary investor in the proposed Oregon casino.

Clairvest and its partners have spent heavily promoting The Grange in television ads and glossy mail brochures. Their development would include a casino, hotel and movie theater in Wood Village, east of Portland, if voters sign off on Measures 82 and 83 later this year.

National Grange, based in Washington, oversees more than 2,000 local Grange units that do community service and advocate for rural and agricultural interests.

"We hope this resolution will allow the public to continue to see the grange as a community organization, steeped in family values, that is not involved in a casino development in the state of Oregon," said Ed Luttrell, president of the National Grange.

The organization has licensed the name to other organizations and is open to discussing a similar arrangement with the casino developers, but a final decision would be made by a national board, Luttrell said. The organization takes no position on gambling or on two Oregon ballot measures, he said.