A federal judge has stopped DemStore.com from selling merchandise with the “Rising Sun” campaign logo without permission from Obama for America.
The President’s campaign committee filed a lawsuit alleging that the private company was infringing on its trademark by selling T-shirts, hats, buttons, and other items with the iconic red, white, and blue image.
Judge Emmet Sullivan agreed with Obama for America and issued a preliminary injunction prohibiting DemStore.com from “engaging in any course of conduct with respect to the 2008 Rising Sun Trademark that is likely to mislead the public into believing that the products marketed and/or offered for sale by defendants are, sponsored, authorized, or otherwise approved by” the campaign committee.
This is only the first step in the lawsuit, of course, as a preliminary injunction stops the alleged infringing behavior only until a final decision is made.
The campaign alleges harm by the DemStore’s selling of merchandise in that Obama for America sells its own products through its website and also keeps a mailing list of customers, which can be used to request further donations. Obama campaign representatives have emphasized the importance of resolving this dispute in a timely fashion as November’s election is coming up fast, and the committee says, sales are typically greatest in the six months leading up to an election.
DemStore.com says that the Obama campaign knew of their merchandise in 2007, and therefore should be blocked from arguing “immediate harm” now. Moreover, the parent company of DemStore.com, Washington Promotions & Printing, argues that a federal political campaign logo should rightfully be in the public domain and without trademark protection.
What do you think–is all fair in love, war, and political campaign trademarks or does the Obama campaign have a valid claim?