Court Rules MoveOn.org Can Use LA Slogan To Criticize Bobby Jindal
from the criticize-on dept
Last month, Tim Cushing wrote about how the Lt. Gov. of Louisiana, Jay Dardenne, had sued Moveon.org over a billboard that used the state’s trademarked “Pick your passion!” slogan. The suit was filled with so much technicality-probing nonsense, one wondered how a judge would be able to look through it without needing a couple of long naps. Chief among the claims was that folks seeing the billboard might somehow think the Lt. Governor was responsible for criticizing the Governor, Bobby Jindal, despite the fact the billboard wasn’t meant for commercial purposes, criticized the same government Dardenne is a part of, and clearly denotes the responsible party as Moveon.org. It seemed like a pretty clear attempt to stifle criticism over the technicality of a frivolous trademark claim. More egregious, Dardenne wanted the billboard removed while the case was litigated.
Fortunately, while we hear so many stories like this that end up with courts being overprotective of any intellectual property claim, the court has sided with free speech and ruled the billboard will stay up while the trademark claim makes its way through the court.
U.S. Judge Shelly D. Dick, who is over seeing the case, said in an April 7 ruling that forcing the group to take down the sign while the trademark infringement issue is being litigated would deny MoveOn.org its right to free political speech. Dick said while the State of Louisiana’s tourism trademark is a legally protectable mark, the burden of proving trademark infringement is on the state which would have to present more compelling information that the infringement was occurring especially because the billboard was merely expressing a point of view.
“The State argues that viewers of the billboard will be confused into thinking that the Lieutenant Governor, as the alleged owner of the service mark, is being critical of the Governor. In this Court’s view, the Lieutenant Governor underestimates the intelligence and reasonableness of people viewing the billboard,” Dick’s ruling states.
It’s an interesting distinction in the ruling, since to disagree would put Dardenne in the uncomfortable position of suggesting his own constituents aren’t as intelligent as Judge Dick thinks. In any case, the ruling goes on to note that its the actual citizens of Louisiana that would get to claim ownership of the trademarked slogan, rather than any individual members of the state’s government who were the billboard’s actual targets, and that no irreparable harm had been proven.
So the billboard stays up and the justice system proves it thinks more of the citizens of Louisiana than some in the state’s own government. Meanwhile, a small single billboard continues to find its way into the media spotlight, where it likely never would have found any purchase if the attempt to take it down hadn’t been made. Well done all around, Lt. Governor!
Filed Under: bobby jindal, jay dardenne, louisiana, trademark
Comments on “Court Rules MoveOn.org Can Use LA Slogan To Criticize Bobby Jindal”
Sounds like a case of tender toes.
Lousyanna has always seemed to have been eat up with corruption above and beyond the norm. Why change now?
Just saying, a judge named “Shelly D. Dick” sounds like something out of a crank call.
That was the first thought I had too.
It is a remarkably unfortunate surname. Bad anglicization maybe? Middle initial “D” doesn’t help either…
MoveOn for Louisiana GOP
I haven’t seen the billboard or read the text. Two thoughts:
1. This is bad precedent by MoveOn. It will open the floodgates for more mudracking political crud, from all parties. I’m tired of that, don’t need more. I doubt I’m the only person who is sick of politicized discourse about every little thing.
2. It doesn’t imply any deficiency in voter intelligence to assume that a state’s trademarked slogan is used exclusively by that state, or in support of the elected officials (and policies) of that state. The Lt Governor should have taken a “wait and see” attitude, rather than sue. Depending on how the billboard is worded, it might lead viewers to believe that MoveOn is organizing on behalf of the Louisiana GOP. Now wouldn’t THAT be ironic!
Re: MoveOn for Louisiana GOP
Well, this is a state that passed legislation allowing for a backdoor into the education system to teach intelligent design in science classes…
Hate to say it, but MoveOn might have a valid point to make here. I agree with you on the mud-slinging thing, but even trademarked slogans have to abide by the ‘fair use’ portion of our laws.
Re: Re: MoveOn for Louisiana GOP
Speaking of LA education, I think they may have seen the light, scales falling from eyes. (Sorry, that was for dramatic effect. I am not a Christian, but love their way with words sometimes).
I say that with respect to the highly STATIST Common Core, which Gov. Jindal is finally turning away from.
Here's the image:
Here’s a story with an image of the billboard.
Re: Here's the image:
Just as an FYI, you could also have simply clicked on the link to Cush’s original story, which also included the image…
Re: Here's the image:
Waging war on Medicaid… ugh, that isn’t good.
Re: Re: Here's the image:
Now, now, Ellie, you have the RIGHT to work for a lower wage. It’ll give you the edge when competing for jobs you’re not qualified for, or something. /sarc
Re: Thank you etc for ottonomy
I visited your website from your profile here, after reading that URL to the MoveOn news.
Wow! You are so kind and introspective, based on what I read. You seem like a very good person, emotionally and ethically. Keep up the great work, and don’t doubt yourself!
* No one here is allowed to poke fun at me for this, okay?