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TN Rep. Martin Daniel

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- A state lawmaker is calling for a refund of all but $10,000 of the $46,000 paid for development of a new Tennessee state logo, saying the company that developed it was "substantially over-compensated."

The Knoxville News Sentinel reports that Rep. Martin Daniel made the request in a letter sent last week to executives of GS&F, the Nashville advertising firm that developed the logo, with copies to Gov. Bill Haslam and state General Services Commissioner Bob Oglesby, whose department oversaw the firm's contract with the state.

In the letter dated July 1, the Knoxville Republican cited his 23 years as the owner and operator of outdoor advertising businesses that have developed hundreds of outdoor advertising designs and numerous logos.

After examining all the documents involved in the contract and conferring with General Services department officials, Daniel said it appears the firm was obliged to produce five "initial concepts" for state review, but actually only produced the one that was finally approved -- the square logo featuring the white letters TN on a red field above a blue bar.

The logo has drawn criticism for its price tag and for being simplistic. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office also rejected the state's application to register the new logo on the basis that it is "primary geographically descriptive." The state sent an amended application last month.

In his letter, the Knoxville Republican said the company was "substantially over-compensated for its work on the project."

"This conclusion is based on the nature of the final logo product, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's recent rejection of the state's application for trademark registration and the widespread public discontent with your work," Daniel wrote.

"In view of the above, I would generously estimate the value of your work to be no more than $10,000. I realize that GS&F has a binding contract with the state and have already received payment for its services, but I respectfully request that you acknowledge the significant problematic issues surrounding the logo and refund $36,000 to the state."

Gregg Boling, executive vice president and managing director of GS&F, said in an email to The Associated Press on Monday that the company stands behind its "process and work."

"GS&F participated in a fair and open bidding process that included multiple agencies, and our bid was selected and approved by the state and the governor's office," Boling said. "GS&F provided multiple concepts for the brand identity package, and the client was pleased with the final direction."

When asked about Daniel's letter, Haslam spokesman Dave Smith said in an email, "we're aware of his concerns."

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