A cigarette manufacturer unaffiliated with Bernie SandersBernie SandersPerez to hit the Sunday shows following election victory How Perez edged Ellison for DNC chair Clinton: Dems will be 'strong, unified' with Perez MORE' campaign wants smokers to "Feel the Bern" — but some worry that the product could end up burning Sanders.
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is processing a trademark application for “Feel The Bern Papers” that would be used to roll cigarettes.
Joanne Ludovici, a Washington-based lawyer at McDermott Will & Emery who spotted the trademark application, said the product's name may be too close to the Democratic presidential candidate's campaign slogan.
“It could present a problem for Bernie optically,” she said.
Ludovici also found two other Sanders-related trademark applications, including one for bumper stickers and posters that say “Bern Baby Bern.”
The Sanders campaign did not immediately return a request for comment.
Sanders is riding momentum from his New Hampshire primary victory Tuesday over Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonPerez to hit the Sunday shows following election victory Five takeaways from CPAC Clinton: Dems will be 'strong, unified' with Perez MORE.
As he has risen in the polls, the phrase “Feel the Bern” has caught on with his campaign supporters and cigarette manufacturers alike.
The trademark application was filed by Patrick Robert Nagle of Nixa, Mo., on Jan. 31, 2016, well after the phrase had already been made popular by Sanders.
Nagle, who could not be reached for comment, indicated he would like to use the term for cigarette rolling papers in his application.
The trademark application will not prevent the Sanders campaign from using the slogan, but it could convey a message the presidential candidate may not want to be associated with, Ludovici said.
According to the Trademark Office website, the process could take nearly 10 months to resolve. While Nagle's application may eventually be rejected, he would be allowed to use the phrase in the meantime as Sanders is on the campaign trail, Ludovici explained.
“There are a number of reasons the Trademark Office could refuse it,” Ludovici said. “The question will be whether it creates a false association with the Bernie Sanders campaign."
Others think the cigarettes could add flare to the Sanders campaign.
“Most people will think it’s funny,” said Brad Bannon, a Democratic strategist. “Bernie could say, ‘I smoked, but didn’t Feel the Bern.’ It would help him lighten up a little bit by making a joke out of it. He could use a humorous edge.”