Seattle's prominent Mars Hill Church says the way it handled a Sacramento, California, church's similar name and logo was a mistake. The California church, meanwhile, has promised to redesign its logo and website.

Officials from the Ballard, Washington, multisite church say a member called attention to the Sacramento church's website, asking if the churches were connected. When elders saw a logo similar to their own, which has been in use since 1996, they sent a cease-and-desist letter to Sacramento's Mars Hill Community Church, which has three locations if its own. Mars Hill Seattle filed an application to trademark its name and logo in August.

"The purpose of including both the name and logo in our filing, as opposed to just our name or just our M logo, is to allow us to prevent other churches from combining a 'Mars Hill' name with a substantially similar logo, like what we saw with the Mars Hill churches in Sacramento," said Mike Anderson, director of communications at the Seattle-area church, which is pastored by Mark Driscoll. "We are not concerned with other Mars Hill churches unless their logo and branding is [similar to] ours. Based on our research, there were no other such churches."

The similarities were completely unintentional, Mars Hill Community Church pastor Scott Hagan said in a blog post . Plans for his church began in 2005, with the logo being designed in 2007. "In 2009, while preaching in Seattle I drove through downtown near the waterfront and came across a Mars Hill property and saw their logo," Hagan said. "I actually thought, until I received the letter from Stokes & Lawrence, that Mars Hill Seattle had used our design."

The Seattle church now says it regrets sending the letter from a lawyer's office ...

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The Story Behind the Mars Hill Trademark Dispute
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