Obama's "Rising Sun" logo
President Obama is all about hope and change. That's been established. What's also been established at this point is Obama's campaign hopes people don't infringe upon its trademarks. If they do, the campaign has no qualms about taking someone to court to force them to change their ways.
Obama's "Rising Sun" logo
Last Friday in federal court "Obama for America"--the President's official reelection committee--filed a lawsuit against Demstore.com and Washington Promotions & Printing Inc., the company that operates the website. The lawsuit claims Demstore.com is selling T-shirts, bumper stickers and buttons featuring two of Obama's signature images-- the well-known "O" logo, and the Obama "rising sun" logo, which features a blue "O" with red and white stripes at the bottom. The Obama campaign says this capitalistic action on the part of Demstore.com is hurting its fundraising efforts by luring people into buying Obama gear that it doesn't get the money from, and also by stealing an opportunity for the campaign to collect contact information from people that it would then use in its future fundraising endeavors.
The Obama campaign is asking for the court to prohibit Demstore.com from selling items bearing Obama's logo, and also to award damages, including profits Demstore.com may have made off of Obama gear.
From the "Substance of the Action section of the lawsuit:
3. In an effort to trade on the enormous popularity of the Rising Sun logos and Trademarks, Defendants operate a website, Demstore.com, at which merchandise bearing the Rising Sun logos and Trademarks is sold or offered for sale in an unauthorized manner. In so doing, Defendants are willfully violating OFA's intellectual property rights in a deliberate effort to trade on OFA's hard-earned reputation and goodwill. Defendants' are thus creating consumer confusion, competing unfairly with OFA, and infringing OFA's trademark rights.
From the "Facts Supporting OFA's Requested Relief" section of the lawsuit:
16. OFA has spent significant sums promoting its merchandise bearing the Rising Sun Trademarks, and the popularity of the Rising Sun Trademarks has contributed greatly to OFA's branding and fundraising efforts.
17. OFA relies entirely on contributions from supporters to run its operations. These contributions are subject to legal restrictions on both the source of income and the amount that each donor can give. For example, OFA cannot receive any contributions from incorporated entities, and contributions from individuals are limited to $2,500 per election from a single individual during the 2012 cycle. The purchase price of any item of OFA merchandise is treated as a contribution, subject to these limits. Thus, the sale of merchandise featuring the Rising Sun Trademarks makes up a significant portion of OFA's revenue.
18. The sale of Campaign merchandise is crucial to OFA's efforts to interact with voters, because each time a supporter makes a relatively small purchase on the website, OFA obtains that individual's contact information, which OFA can then use to reach out to that individual repeatedly to seek further donations and further opportunities to promote the Campaign.
19. OFA's campaign strategy relies largely on promoting a certain message, and consequently OFA emphasizes the authenticity of merchandise bearing the Rising Sun Trademarks and exercises strict control over the consumers' experience on its website and at other marketplaces where supporters can purchase authorized OFA merchandise.
The Associated Press spoke with Steve Schwat, the owner of Washington Promotions & Printing Inc., who, not surprisingly, was none too thrilled with the lawsuit levied by the Obama campaign.
From the AP report:
[Schwat] said state and county groups rely on his site, which supports only Democrats, to get materials. And he said those groups don't want to go to Obama's website and pay more. For example, a white T-shirt with the Obama logo is $30 at the campaign's site, but a group that wants to buy in bulk can get 500 from Demstore.com at $5.49 each.
"I think people prefer to have the freedom to buy the merchandise where they want to," Schwat said.
Find the complete lawsuit filed June 1 in federal court on the following page.
The Obama campaign filed the following lawsuit against Demstore.com and Washington Promotions & Printing Inc. June 1 in federal court: