18 April 2016Trademarks

Bernie Sanders campaign embroiled in trademark row

A website owner has hit back at Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign by accusing it of “trademark bullying” after being sent a cease-and-desist letter by a law firm representing the campaign.

In a letter sent to the campaign’s representatives, Paul Levy, a lawyer representing website owner Daniel McCall, said Sanders “should be ashamed” of his law firm’s trademark bullying on his behalf.

McCall owns Liberty Maniacs and sells mugs and t-shirts online that show Sanders next to historical communist figures including Karl Marx and Joseph Stalin alongside the tagline “Bernie is my comrade”.

Levy’s letter, sent on April 15, said it was absurd to suggest that the public may be confused over whether the products originated from Sanders’ campaign or elsewhere.

In an earlier letter, dated January 7 but reportedly sent on April 14, Claire Hawkins, owner of law firm Garvey Schubert Barer, which is representing Sanders,  had demanded that the company “destroy and/or take offline” any existing products that use the image.

But Levy hit back: “McCall will not remove the images about which you complain from his websites nor will he refrain from continuing to offer printed images on shirts, hoodies and mugs for sale.”

He added that McCall reserved the right to file a declaratory judgment of non-infringement should the campaign refuse to drop its claim.

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