April 17, 2016

"I was surprised Bernie’s campaign would have done that. He didn’t seem to be the type of candidate, the type of guy, who would do something like this."

Said Daniel McCall, whose company makes "Bernie is my comrade" T-shirts and things, after getting a cease-and-desist letter from Sanders campaign lawyers. The campaign is trying to enforce intellectual property rights, and the company, Liberty Maniacs, is trying to portray Bernie Sanders as a communist.

McCall's lawyer says that the asserted trademark right depends on whether "an ordinary and reasonably prudent consumer would tend to be confused about whether it is the Sanders campaign that is promoting Sanders’ candidacy by associated him with the 19th Century theoreticians of the communist movement as well as with three ruthless Communist Party dictators."

Here's the image:



Text from the company website: "With the lovable personality of a drowsy badger and the voice of a bullfrog, Bernie is your comrade in fighting the good fight against oligarchical imperialism, exploitative corporatism, economic logic, electoral probability, male pattern baldness, Clintonian coronation, and whatever other Sisyphean task you can shake your fist at. This shirt includes a pantheon of socialist paladins just to confuse, fascinate, and cause the finger-wagging nitpicking partisan to hilariously instruct upon the proper definition of socialism while everyone within a five foot radius rolls their eyes in aversion."

I note that the lawyer framed the issue as whether the consumer would be confused and the web site states an intent "to confuse" — albeit not to confuse the consumer. The consumer is in on the intent to cause confusion.

83 comments:

Comanche Voter said...

I am enough of a capitalist running dog not to buy the T shirt. But it did make me smile. I might buy the T shirt however if the artist put a nice drawing of Jane Fonda and Ho Chi Minh on the back. Some of us Comanches have a looong memory.

Big Mike said...

Looks like $20 well spent. I'm going to try to order one in 3XL.

David Begley said...

Consumers are idiots. A lawyer could commission a consumer survey and easily get the right result.

Most consumers don't know who Joe Biden is.

Hagar said...

Bernie is not a communist. Communists kill, especially their own people, and Bernie is not a killer.

I read a notice the other day that Viet Nam has its first woman billionaire; a quite nice looking young woman who owns and operates Viet Nam's largest privately owned airline, which she apparently created by her very own self.

rcocean said...

Three of the greatest mass-murders in history and Bernie.

Cool.

rcocean said...

The Shirt needs more Pol-pot.

Sebastian said...

"I was surprised Bernie’s campaign would have done that. He didn’t seem to be the type of candidate, the type of guy, who would do something like this." I guess you're not the only one who's into faux surprise. At least I hope he wasn't naive enough to think that a leftie would refrain from trying to use capitalist rules to grab other people's property.

Fernandinande said...

I'm gonna vote for those two guys in the middle.

Fritz said...

Does this need a "lawsuits I hope will fail" tag?

rhhardin said...

I don't see any rights for Bernie whatever the consumer thinks.

Maybe some Bernie supporters will buy it. Maybe they like the message, who knows.

Buy the shirt or not, its not Bernie's business.

AprilApple said...

Our government run schools are so disgraceful, this is the result. Our young WANT a socialist-communist dictatorship. We DESIRE the destruction the individual for the greater "good" of the corrupt big-government collective.

James Graham said...

Q. Why did Bernie Sanders decide to spend his honeymoon in the Soviet Union?

A. The North Koreans had lost his visa application.

Gahrie said...

Seems like fair use to me

john said...

"Nip this in the bud, do it now, and come down hard on these people. We cannot let this issue get out of control."

Reportedly, from Barbra Streisand's legal team, on loan to the Sander's campaign.

Chuck said...


So, professor Althouse;

As you know, the language about "confusing" the vendor's message with the message of the campaign (and trademark holder) is trademark-law boilerplate. Included in almost every cease-and-desist letter. I don't think it is necessarily untrue in this case, but it is certainly unremarkable. The kind of boilerplate that laypersons typically read and freak out over, in many civil complaints.

And by the way, I love reading cease-and-desist letters. The letter in this case can be found here:

http://www.citizen.org/documents/SandersDemandLetter.pdf

Reading it, you will see that there is little if any emphasis on the image of Sanders with history's communists. Rather, it is on the unapproved use of the "Bernie" logo with its characteristic font.

Speaking of great cease-and-desist letters, you could base a sizable book on the cease-and-desist letters of Donald Trump. He's done many more of them, than even the number of frivolous lawsuits that he has initiated. Here is the Washington Post's Chris Cilizza, on just one of the more recent ones:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2015/09/22/donald-trumps-cease-and-desist-letter-annotated/


AprilApple said...

Capitalism is bad. Please buy this.

Laslo Spatula said...

Girl with the Pony Tail on the Treadmill:

I don't see why people get all upset about Socialism.

(pony-tail swish, pony-tail swish)

There's no reason things can't be shared more fairly.

(pony-tail swish, pony-tail swish)

I work hard. I deserve more for working hard.

(pony-tail swish, pony-tail swish)

I mean, I should at least be able to get an Audi for all I do.

(pony-tail swish, pony-tail swish)

My boss just bought a new Land Rover, yet he won't give me a raise.

(pony-tail swish, pony-tail swish)

Leather seats, the works.

(pony-tail swish, pony-tail swish)

I don't see how asking him to share is a bad thing.

(pony-tail swish, pony-tail swish)

Why is it that only Bernie understands this?

(pony-tail swish, pony-tail swish)

My college debt helped the Economy. Why don't I get any credit for that?

(pony-tail swish, pony-tail swish)

Fucking Wall Street.

(pony-tail swish, pony-tail swish)

Bernie would get rid of my college debt.

(pony-tail swish, pony-tail swish)

I want to key my boss's Land Rover.

(pony-tail swish, pony-tail swish)

Scratch "Bernie 2016" on the door.

(pony-tail swish, pony-tail swish)

Maybe then he would see why he is wrong.

(pony-tail swish, pony-tail swish)

Under Socialism I'd probably get a better job. I could afford to work for a no-profit.

(pony-tail swish, pony-tail swish)

I'm tired of working to make other people money.

(pony-tail swish, pony-tail swish)

We just need that bitch Hillary to get out of Bernie's way.

(pony-tail swish, pony-tail swish)

I don't see why people get all upset about Socialism.

(pony-tail swish, pony-tail swish)

I am Laslo.

John said...

I don't recognize the 2nd guy

Is that Engels?

Birkel said...

Purchased.

The Godfather said...

If Bernie gets the Democratic nomination, I am definitely buying that T-shirt. If it's Hillary! I picture a T-shirt with her raising both hands in a "V for victory" gesture saying "I am not crook".

robinintn said...

There's a coffee cup too. In two sizes! I got the small.

Paddy O said...

Some t-shirts are more equal than others.

TWW said...

He's certainly leading the fight against 'economic logic'!

The Drill SGT said...

John said... Engels?

Yes

https://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/71/Engels.jpg&imgrefurl=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Friedrich_Engels&h=422&w=300&tbnid=nSa3aNZp2eckwM:&tbnh=186&tbnw=132&docid=E-e3dQ_6WZbz_M&itg=1&usg=__TakQMWWwjAZzXHDM1QbJ2_HOqng=

Lem said...

The objective of that shirt is to throw off the old voting machine tasked with the impossible job of ascertaining the intent of the voter ;)

Is he a Bernie voter or a Hillary voter calling Bernie a Commie?

Jim said...

"This shirt includes a pantheon of socialist paladins". Paladin, from Have Gun Will Travel. Not even 6am here and I've got the theme song in my head.
Anyway, the Peoples Cube has better Tee shirts.

jelink said...

I'm not so sure many Americans these days would recognize anyone but Bernie.

In the waning years of the Carter era I managed to be in the first wave of Westerners allowed into China as tourists.

I recall a middle-aged guy in our group staring at a Pantheon of Communist Greats displayed high on a wall, and asking, "I recognize Mao and Chou (En-Lai), but...who are those two Europeans?"

They were Marx and Engels.

rhhardin said...

In an ideal world the tee-shirts would be free.

Lem said...

BTW... Beware of the emoji - you just might be sending contradictory messages.

25% of the time, people receiving emojis are interpreting the opposite of what the emoji sender meant to convey.

Link

Bruce Hayden said...

I think that this is just an example of what to expect if Sanders gets the nomination. His economics are brain dead, along with much else in his politics - though I do agree with him on the big banks getting away with banditry, and then getting an edge on their smaller competitors, by buying Chuck Dodd and Barney Frank (along with others, esp. Dems).

I was interested to see what type of stuff this site had. For the election, most tended to go after Hillary (for prison), Sanders, and esp. Trump. I think that they are mildly libertarians there (as opposed to some of the militant libertarians we sometimes see). In regards to this post, I was interested to note that a number of their Hillary shirts, mugs, etc. used her campaign logo (with the stylized H). Which they apparently haven't tried to stop (yet). But, that does say, to me, that neither Hillary's campaign, nor Hillary's are behind this.

Michael K said...

"by buying Chuck Dodd and Barney Frank (along with others, esp. Dems). "

Chris Dodd ?

Or did you mean the MTP host ? He is a lefty but his price was not that high.

Bruce Hayden said...

From a trademark point of view, I don't see the Sanders campaign having much of a claim here. There is little chance that these shirts could confuse the public about whether or not the Sanders campaign was behind them. There is some TM law about disparagement, but also some about parody. One thing against them is that I wouldn't have recognized the picture of Sanders as being from his campaign. I recognized his face there, just not the origin of it. If they wanted to go beyond that though, claiming that it is a famous mark, I would start worrying even more about misusing TM law for political gain. (And, yes, the Hillary people probably have a better claim for this site's use of her stylized H logo, which I do associate with her campaign, and is, now, fairly famous).

But, then, despite officially being an IP attorney, I have done very little trademark work over the last quarter century. Most everywhere I have worked have had dedicated trademark attorneys, or, what we call "soft IP", which also includes copyright (I know a lot more copyright law), privacy, etc. Last firm had a lot of big trademark clients, and better than a dozen soft IP attorneys to the two of us patent attorneys. We joke that soft IP is where people who can't get licensed with the USPTO go if they want to practice IP law.

Bruce Hayden said...

Sorry, Chris Dodd. My fingers were typing faster than my brain was working. Dodd, the same guy who got that sweetheart Countrywide loan.

walter said...

"The campaign is trying to enforce intellectual property rights"
There's a flawed premise..

Bernie! will give you the shirt off someone's back.

mccullough said...

Wealthy corporation cracks down on small businessman.

hoyden said...

This shirt would be a great companion to my NSFW "No Bush in '92" t-shirt.

Chuck said...

Bruce Hayden said...
Sorry, Chris Dodd. My fingers were typing faster than my brain was working. Dodd, the same guy who got that sweetheart Countrywide loan.


I was going to add something; that Dodd's Countrywide loan was for a vacation "cottage" which was actually a 10-acre property and part of a much larger former aristocratic estate in Ireland.

But that wouldn't have been quite right, and I am glad I checked myself. Dodd didn't get a Countrywide loan for that Irish "cottage" deal. It was even sleazier, than a mere Countrywide mortgage:

Let's allow the Wall Street Journal (you know; that "Journal" which simply protects the Washington establishment and all financial types) to explain:

http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB123681364667801647

Michael K said...

"the same guy who got that sweetheart Countrywide loan."

Well, that narrows it down to half the politicians in DC.

Just kidding.

I ordered the tee short plus the "Hillary Prison 2016" shirt.

I plan to wear it for my Bernie supporter daughter.

Laslo Spatula said...

Oh Candy and Ronnie, have you seen him yet
Oh but he's so against the banks, B-B-B-Bernie and the Reds
Oh but he's Socialist and he's wonderful
Oh Bernie he's really keen
Hell get us free internet, he'll pay our college debts
You know I read it on a blog, oh
B-B-B-Bernie and the Reds

Piano goes here.

I am Laslo.

walter said...

Are they playing Free Bird at Berno's rallies?

walter said...

Maybe a "Bern that bitch!" shirt is available.

The Cracker Emcee said...

Althouse is spreading some of that cruel neutrality this morning, though she still must be working on the Cruz post. These are the mornings of comment gold.

walter said...

well..this came up in search...but seems to have been removed..
Bern Bitch Bern

Fandor said...

Looks like the hot dog is missing from this ad.

Fandor said...

A commie Rushmore on cotton.

Beldar said...

It's a bogus claim, but IP cases are spectacularly expensive to fight even when you win. The Sanders campaign isn't for-profit. This isn't about protecting an intellectual property interest, but about suppressing political speech.

And yes, it's disgusting. But typical: Bernie Sanders could give a flying flip about the First Amendment, and indeed wants to repeal it in substantial part via a federalization of the campaign finance system.

All this simply shows the incredible aptness of putting Bernie's face next to Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin, and Mao.

n.n said...

#CecileTheCannibal is missing from the lineup.

What do humanity's leading mass murderers have in common?

robinintn said...

If you dig around the site, you see it's represented by Paul Alan Levy, and they've already successfully fought off threats from both Hillary and the NSA. The NSA!

Rhythm and Balls said...

So this is the tactic resorted to by the same whores who can't regulate Wall Street, who have outsourced our manufacturing and jobs, who have "industrialized" the dirtiest of dirty China (and Panama!) at our expense. I guess there's nothing every Republican can't hate enough to bring the rest of America down with it. Thanks, Republicans!

BTW, your ineptitude is the reason that "capitalism" polls worse than "socialism" among basically everyone under 40 years of age, these days. Keep fighting for things that you're doing nothing to improve. Again, this all this implosion and electoral loss federally couldn't happen to a more deserving party!

Robert Cook said...

I think the real purpose of trying to halt the production and sale of shirts and other items with this image is to protect Sanders' candidacy. Strategists for Sanders' campaign--perhaps Sanders himself--may be fearful that by placing Sanders' likeness alongside those of Marx, Lenin, Mao, Stalin, (and Engels, whom no one will recognize), potential voters may assume Sanders is like these men--and Marx and Engels were not like Stalin or Mao--and will be scared away from voting for Sanders.

Titus said...

The Bernie story boring on Buzzfeed, but the Phillipino trans call center was fascinating.

I am not into trans and wish they were not included in the Gay Agenda!

But the bitches got balls.

Titus said...

I saw my Beirut Harvard Phd trick outside today. I have only seen him, in the past, at my door and making out with me on the elevator on the way to my Penthouse.

We shook hands and spoke and he petted the rare clumber, it was weird, but somewhat exciting...actually speaking.

Love his accent....so exotic, but he is very white, compared to other Muzzies, he could pass for American, which is somewhat of an erection killer, but the accent makes up for his whiteness.

DanTheMan said...

>>...and will be scared away from voting for Sanders.

If he really wants to scare people, he should be selling chalk. I hear that it's terrifying and makes Bernie's demographic feel unsafe and afraid to go out in public.

buwaya puti said...

Third world experience -
The greatest damage inflicted on the poor and struggling people in all these irrelevant, out of the way places, is inflicted not by the oppressive capitalists (who work in grossly defective social systems, and are of course the scapegoats for everything), but rather the aristocratic leftists, or would be aristocrats among the intelligentsia. They, the unaccountable governors, are the constant daily suppressors of prosperity and progress. Bernie Sanders and his milquetoaste ilk are extremely dangerous, sweet poison as opposed to the bitter acid of Pol Pot. The proper source, if you care, is Milovan Djilas.

walter said...

Leave the clumbers alone. They can't consent. Your match is out there somewhere.

Michael K said...

"potential voters may assume Sanders is like these men"

Oh Noooooooo !

buwaya puti said...

If you want to see the Berniocratic face of Satan revealed, consider the current civil suit brought by various Communist State Attornies-General against Chevron and the CEI, for even attempting to object to global-warming policies. Here is the totalitarian left deploying the boot on the face. Let them win, and this will be your fate in everything everywhere.
You Americans MUST destroy them now.

Char Char Binks said...

It's fair game, and obviously satire.

pst314 said...

Hagar "Bernie is not a communist. Communists kill, especially their own people, and Bernie is not a killer."
And yet Bernie sure has shown a lot of sympathy and support for those commies.

Birkel said...

"Rhythm and Balls" and Robert Cook are so funny! The communist Sanders, who honeymooned in the Soviet Union, doesn't want to be confused with other communists? And he doesn't want that association because of the 100+ million body count between 1917 and 1989?

But polling for capitalism is bad because unionized teachers and Leftist professors adequately teach? Opinion polling, ftw.

When you write this stuff, are you guys wearing your Che Guevara T-shirts?

Birkel said...

Inadequately... obviously...

James Pawlak said...


All of the pictured socialists were opposed to: Free speech; The "free exercise of religion"; And, the rights of the People to "keep and bear arms".

jaydub said...

Hagar "Bernie is not a communist. Communists kill, especially their own people, and Bernie is not a killer." Neither did any of the other commie club members before they had power.

Roadkill711 said...

What, no Eugene Debs, Che Guevara, or Hugo Chavez? I can see why Bernie is pissed.

Rhythm and Balls said...

No matter how much you fantasize about a 74-year old former kibbutznik killing 100 million Americans, it's a lot harder to fantasize about a Republican party that doesn't seek to outsource American jobs, that doesn't seek to decimate American manufacturing and replace it with jobs for sales clerks at Home Depot and (Michael K's favorite!) fast food joints, that doesn't prefer to develop China while America's infrastructure crumbles.

I would dare Birkel to say anything positive about the Republican party that he loves so much. But that would overload his circuits.

Iapetus said...

Oh please, I have the same shirt with Obama in place of Sanders. I bought two of them on-line back in 2008 and I still wear them around in order to annoy my Liberal neighbors.

buwaya puti said...

They don't need death camps to kill.
It's just another flavor of poison, taste-tested and guaranteed to go down easy. Over time zero economic growth will exterminate as well as Pol Pot. That fellow was just a bit hasty.
And, I think it is well understood, there are two Republican parties, one of which is intimately aligned with the same social class, the modern American nomenklatura, from which the Sanders campaign gets its supporters.
What you really have here are competing classes, or rather tribes, which fit poorly into party designations.
You really are in a desperate state.

Jim Harvey said...

Jaydub: huh? Stalin never killed before he was in power? Lenin and Mao never ordered killing before they were in power?

aritai said...

oh boy! Food fight. Time to see a shirt with Ms. C. in a Mao jacket and while you're at it interview a few of the FBI investigators that resigned in disgust when they had the Clintons down cold, dead to rights, a certain conviction for receiving all kinds of cash from the Chinese government and so called corporations in the 90s. Another untold story, but out there in all details for everyone to see. Mr C. was the first president ever to fire every single U.S. attorney in your history. Can smell the corruption even out here the rim of my crater. Then again you folks have tolerated rot from your early days as a carrion eater, granted it was easier to eat a real predator's rotting kill sitting at the cave entrance than do any work.

Birkel said...

"Rhythm and Balls"

You still think I am a Republican? What part of the Leviathan State confuses you so? I want the whole mess upset.

You are thick, I suppose. But still you should try to keep up.

Michael Fitzgerald said...

How is it that all these ardent Sanders supporters have no idea what that asshole stands for? He has a very consistent class-warfare rhetoric of blaming the problems of society on the wealthy and nefarious "corporations", he praises communists, socialists, and crony capitalism, and he's served in government for the majority of his adult life- yet has the nerve to decry "the system" of which he has been a worthless cog since the '80's. I see the problem- he looks just like every other democrat politician these days.

Rex said...

I ran a trademark search on the USPTO web site, and found only one trademark application for Bernie 2016, which specifically includes a cartoon head character as part of the trademark. It has not been registered. If Bernie is asserting trademark rights, they can only be common law rights.

Michael K said...

"(Michael K's favorite!) fast food joints,"

Huh ?

If you count McCormack and Schmicks as fast food, I guess so.

I also like The Harbor Grill but I'm not sure they would like to be called fast foo.

Also there are places I like in London but they are not "Take Away" as they say there.

Hagar said...

When I said communists kill, I meant that as a general statement. Kill is what they do, leaders and followers all.

jaydub said...

Jim Harvey said...

Jaydub: huh? Stalin never killed before he was in power? Lenin and Mao never ordered killing before they were in power?

I said had power, not were in power. There is a difference.

Achilles said...

Rhythm and Balls said...

"No matter how much you fantasize about a 74-year old former kibbutznik killing 100 million Americans, it's a lot harder to fantasize about a Republican party that doesn't seek to outsource American jobs, that doesn't seek to decimate American manufacturing and replace it with jobs for sales clerks at Home Depot and (Michael K's favorite!) fast food joints, that doesn't prefer to develop China while America's infrastructure crumbles."

You are falling down the Republicans are responsible for everything idiot hole again. Stop. The problem is deeper and more serious than that.

The biggest problem we have as a country is it is prohibitively expensive to make anything here. We have the most productive people in the world and it is still cheaper to build it in China and ship it here. Why? L&I, OSHA, IRS, SS, 2 million line tax code that only applies to businesses too small to pay bribes, highest corporate taxes in the world, 3 levels of municipal government for any building project, over litigation.

The second problem is the Bullshit trade agreements like TPP that BOTH PARTIES like to write. But this is a distant second.

We need to get the retards who should be flipping burgers out of the 6 figure federal government jobs they are in that are being paid to make our lives miserable.



tim in vermont said...

What I love about R&B is his absolute lack of self-doubt. If the Democrats are flooding the low end of the market with cheap labor just for the votes, and as collateral damage harming low skilled American workers? Well, that's not a thing! The simple solution is to overturn the law of supply and demand for labor by forcing small businesses to pay higher wages! Supply and demand is not a natural law, it's a construct of The Man to keep the poor in their place!

Franklin said...

Brilliant marketing.

Peter said...

The t-shirt is successful because it's close enough to the truth that someone seeing it (other than the purchaser, of course) might just think it's actual campaign merchandise. For why would a declared socialist object to being shown with Marx, and might not some Sanders supporters wish to use the image to promote Sanders' candidacy?

In any case, even if the cease-and-desist letter makes the t-shirt at least temporarily unavailable, it fails in that millions will see the image who otherwise would not have done so. Although it may succeed in costing the t-shirt vendor some cash.

Freeman Hunt said...

What is the age cutoff for wearing shirts with messages on them? That site has a lot of great shirts.

Birches said...

I've decided Titus needs to meet Milo Yianappolis.

Rhythm and Balls said...

I never said I was for unfettered immigration. Or this high an increase in the minimum wage.

I never said that I think every trade agreement is a good one for us.

But I do reject that nonsense of how if we only found a way to pollute our air and mistreat our workers as badly as China does, everything will be ok.

If Achilles gets his way and lowers America to China's level, he must promise to provide me, gratis, a lifetime supply of breathing masks to filter out the particulates and water kits to keep the melamine out whatever I'm drinking.

But that's just because we have different standards: I like a clean and sustainable environment. He likes China's labor and environmental regulations.

Rusty said...


But I do reject that nonsense of how if we only found a way to pollute our air and mistreat our workers as badly as China does, everything will be ok.

If Achilles gets his way and lowers America to China's level, he must promise to provide me, gratis, a lifetime supply of breathing masks to filter out the particulates and water kits to keep the melamine out whatever I'm drinking.

No one made that claim hyperbole boy. You really are a twitchy kid aren't you.
Be careful ritmo. some damned Republican might put dirt on your kale.
Get back to us when the EPA has cleaned up the river it polluted. Used to be a nice trout stream.