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28 July 2014Trademarks

Senator Hershey ordered to change campaign posters after chocolate confusion

A judge has ordered US senator Steve Hershey to change his promotional material after it was deemed too similar to a trademark belonging to chocolate maker The Hershey Company.

According to the ruling, in which a preliminary injunction in favour of the chocolate maker was granted, judge William Quarles said people could easily think the Republican senator was “in some way” affiliated with The Hershey Company.

Hershey had used his surname in white lettering on a dark brown background in 2002 and 2010 for campaign posters.

The Pennsylvania-based foods company objected to the initial use on the grounds that it resembled its Hershey Bar chocolate logo.

Despite the objections, it let Hershey use the material on the understanding he would cease use after the election period.

But, after discovering he had had used a similar logo for a third time earlier this year it filed a trademark lawsuit in June at the US District Court for the District of Maryland.

In a judgment published on July 22, the court said that although the public was not likely to confuse Hershey with a chocolate bar they may think he and the company are affiliated.

The preliminary injunction will stop Hershey from using the sign pending a final outcome from the court.

In a statement Hershey said he was “disappointed” but confident that he acted “in good faith” with The Hershey Company.

He added that he believed he and his team designed a sign and campaign material which was “materially different” from the campaign signs that The Hershey Company allowed the campaign to use in the past.

“I accept the decision from the preliminary injunction hearings and will comply with the terms stipulated by the court,” he added.

The Hershey Company did not immediately respond to a request to comment.

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