03/12/2013 02:13 EDT | Updated 05/12/2013 05:12 EDT

CNE objects to use of images, marks in casino proposal

The Canadian National Exhibition is taking steps to prevent its official marks and images from being used by two companies vying to build a casino in downtown Toronto.

MGM and Cadillac Fairview recently unveiled a proposal for a casino complex they would like to build on the current Exhibition Grounds in downtown Toronto.

But the Exhibition says it doesn’t support the proposed project, and that the two companies have been using official CNE marks and images without permission to do so.

Brian Ashton, the president of the Canadian National Exhibition Association, has outlined his organization's objections in a cease-and-desist letter sent to executives at Cadillac Fairview and MGM.

"We have noticed that you have adopted and are making extensive use of images including the Princes' Gates, CNE, our costume characters, and other iconic images of the CNE to promote your proposal for a casino and resort complex at Exhibition Place," Ashton said in the letter dated March 12.

"The use of this artwork in various publications of your proposal reproduces the Official Marks of the CNEA without the consent of the CNEA, and as such constitutes infringement of the Official Marks of the CNEA."

Furthermore, Ashton asserts that the organization's board of directors believes the proposed development is "incompatible with, and threatening to, the continued existence of the CNE."

The organization is concerned that members of the public may believe that the CNE supports, or is involved with the proposal, if its images and official marks continue to appear in literature prepared by MGM and Cadillac Fairview.

The letter instructs MGM and Cadillac Fairview to stop using the images and official marks and advises them that the CNE may in the future demand that they make it clear that the Exhibition has no affiliation with the proposal.

In an interview with CBC News, Ashton said he believes the companies involved in the proposal will respect the letter that they have been sent.

"I think they’ll recognize that legally we have copyright, trademark rights, it's a brand that we’re protecting," he said Tuesday.

"And if we don’t protect the CNE brand, this is what happens."

Alan Feldman, the senior vice-president of public affairs at MGM Resorts, released a statement on Tuesday confirming receipt of the letter.

"Both MGM and Cadillac Fairview will carefully review its contents and respond if necessary," Feldman said in the statement.