Seattle is being treated to a new kind of marketing: corporate graffiti. Over the last two months, the logo of Ecko Unlimited, a New Jersey clothing manufacturer that caters to teenagers (and people who dress like them), has been spray-painted onto walls, electrical boxes, and road signs in Seattle and Portland. The three-inch-wide stenciled logos are appearing singularly and in grids in Capitol Hill and the U-District. The person or persons spraying the logos--the silhouette of a rhinoceros surrounded by a thick, open-ended oval--and the company itself may be liable to prosecution.

Ed McKenna, a Seattle city prosecutor who handles graffiti cases for the City Attorney's Office, says such acts qualify as a gross misdemeanor, carrying penalties of a $5,000 fine and up to a year in jail. If the damage exceeds $250, a charge of malicious mischief can be brought, with a higher discretionary sentence. McKenna says a handful of reported taggings can often help police to establish a pattern and apprehend a suspect. Circumstantial evidence is admissible in graffiti cases because it is extremely hard to catch someone in the act of defacing property.

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Ecko's marketing department denied that the company is paying people in Seattle and Portland to tag on its behalf, but according to McKenna, "It's unusual that this is going on in [more than one city] at the same time." Ecko is not in much of a position to complain if the city decides to prosecute: According to McKenna, the T-shirt company offers bounties to informers who help the company identify label pirates selling Ecko knockoffs.

No investigation of the unconventional advertising (which is being counter-tagged with the words "CORPORATE GRAFFITI") is being pursued by the City Attorney's Office, because no one has yet called the police about the taggings. "We need a police report to begin an investigation," says McKenna. "It's hard to put a corporation in jail, but they could be charged with accomplice liability."