Obama campaign sues third party vendor. Should political campaigns be able to copyright?

Not sure how many of my readers are particularly interested in copyright law as it pertains to political campaigns, but I found this article from the First Amendment Center interesting:

A federal judge in Washington issued a preliminary injunction barring Washington-based from selling merchandise with the “O” logo. But the judge reserved judgment on whether the website should also be barred from selling merchandise with a logo that uses the distinctive “O” as part of the year 2012.

U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan said lawyers for the campaign had shown the campaign owns the trademark on the so-called “rising sun” logo, a blue “O” with red and white stripes at the bottom. The campaign has also applied for a trademark on the 2012 logo, but it has not been granted. Sullivan ordered both sides to provide more information.

This strikes me as odd for a couple of reasons, not the least of which is, as the article notes, that other Democratic campaigns have used the same company without incident. But the second reason is: why should a political campaign even be allowed to copyright its goods? Why should a group whose sole purpose is to elect a President of the United States even be allowed to have discrete intellectual property?

Imagine, for example, a White House that decided to file for intellectual property rights for some of the policies the Administration put into place? If the White House and the halls of Congress are (at least ceremonially) the property of our democracy, then surely so are our democratic processes and the tools that go into it?

Commie that I am, I’m not that big of a fan of intellectual property, of course. I’ve made that point clear enough. And commie that I am, I’m very-much in favour of publicly-funded elections. So, maybe this is just the confluence of those two beliefs. But why would an election campaign for office not for sale need intellectual property to sell? Does that not seem contradictory?

By Tommy Belknap

Owner, developer, editor of DragonFlyEye.Net, Tom Belknap is also a freelance journalist for The 585 lifestyle magazine. He lives in the Rochester area with his wife and son.