Obama campaign sues merchandise company over logo use

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The company Washington Promotions & Printing, Inc, through the website Demstore.com, sells merchandise similar to that which the campaign sells through the official Obama for America website, using the trademarked logo for the red, white and blue “Rising Sun.” The company charges less for their Obama-themed merchandise than does the campaign, which uses the merchandise as a fundraising tool, but the profits do not fund Obama’s re-election effort.

The complaint charges that the “defendants are using the Rising Sun Trademarks on merchandise in a deliberate and willful attempt to draw on the goodwill and commercial magnetism of the Rising Sun Trademarks and the Obama campaigns.”

Owner Steve Schwat told the Legal Times the complaint seemed like "selective enforcement” because he believes there are hundreds of other companies selling similar Obama merchandise. He also told the Associated Press he has a history of working “cooperatively” with Democratic campaigns and is disappointed by the lawsuit.

"I think people prefer to have the freedom to buy the merchandise where they want to," he said.

The campaign sued the same company for infringement last year. The Associated Press noted that the case was voluntarily dismissed, possibly because it was filed in a federal court in Chicago. The complaint filed by lawyers for the campaign notes they gave the company plenty of notice that the campaign would pursue its cease and desist request.