President Obama’s reelection campaign is in court today going head to head with Demstore.com, a website selling buttons, hats and balloons supporting a second term for the president.
To most, this sounds like great campaign awareness for the incumbent. So what’s the problem?
Many of the products feature Obama for America’s "O" logo, which is designed to look like a rising sun. Lawyers for the campaign claim that Demstore.com and its owner, Washington Promotions & Printing Inc., don’t have permission to use the trademarked symbol.
By selling items featuring the image, Obama’s team argues that Demstore is violating intellectual property rights, engaging in unfair competition and siphoning away revenue that would have otherwise gone to the reelection effort.
“The sale of merchandise featuring the Rising Sun Trademarks makes up a significant portion of OFA’s revenue,” according to the civil suit.
Redirecting customers from official merchandise also prevents campaigners from collecting contact information and other data about Obama supporters, which could come in handy for future fundraising runs, according a suit filed against Demstore.com in June.
On Monday, lawyers for the campaign will ask a federal judge in Washington, D.C., to temporarily bar the website from selling signs, T-shirts, decals and other products featuring the “O” logo.
“We are sad that the campaign is suing,” said Demstore owner Steven F. Schwat in a statement. “We hoped to come to a reasonable solution.”
The Obama juggernaut has carefully managed its political branding efforts, which in the run-up to the 2008 election helped raise an unprecedented sum of roughly $750 million.
But last month, Obama and the Democratic National Committee raised $71 million -- $35 million less than the $106 million collected by Mitt Romney and the Republican National Committee.