ATTORNEYS FOR SOCIALIST PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE THREATEN T-SHIRT DESIGNER
Lawyers for independent socialist U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders are threatening to sue a T-shirt manufacturer for producing a design that (effectively) parodies his presidential campaign logo.
Sanders’ campaign attorneys sent the Minnesota-based website Liberty Maniacs a cease and desist letter (.pdf here) demanding the company stop selling “Bernie IS MY COMRADE” shirts, which feature Sanders alongside fellow socialists Mao Zedong, Joseph Stalin, Vladimir Lenin, Freidrich Engels and Karl Marx.
“As an intellectual property owner, our client is obligated to take steps to protect its trademark and copyright rights and to protect the good will built up in its name and brand,” Sanders’ attorney wrote.
Last time we checked, parody was protected speech.
An attorney for the site, Paul Levy, responded to Sanders’ nastygram saying that “Bernie Sanders should be ashamed of your trademark bullying on his behalf.”
“It is your contention, apparently, that an ordinary and reasonably prudent consumer would tend to be confused about whether it is the Sanders campaign that is promoting Sanders’ candidacy by associating him with the 19th century theoreticians of the communist movement as well as with three ruthless Communist Party dictators,” Levy wrote (.pdf here). “That contention is absurd. You cannot use trademark theories to silence members of the American public who disagree with your client’s views and oppose his candidacy.”
This isn’t the first time Liberty Maniacs has been hit with such heavy-handed tactics.
Two years ago the “Ready for Hillary” pre-campaign political action committee went after the company for producing “Ready for Oligarchy” shirts and other promotional items that mimicked its official design. Before that, the National Security Agency (NSA) tried to prohibit the company for selling shirts and other merchandise bearing spoofs of its official seals.
Want to buy one of the company’s shirts? Click here …