No You Can't: Obama Campaign Sued for Trademark Infringement (but not really)

Generally, politics and IP law don't come into contact much, but this story was too fun to ignore. According to a humor column in New Jersey's Politicker, the phrase "yes we can" is trademarked by the National Center for Home Food Preservation and Canning, a D.C. lobbying group. (Get it?) A protest rally against the campaign's alleged trademark infringement drew a whopping 35 people. Asked about the lawsuit, a canning executive stated, "That slogan is known all over the country for just one thing: canning.”

Although not a real claim, we thought it would be interesting to give it a brief analysis. Since no consumer would reasonably believe Obama has entered the canning industry, presumably the claim here would be one of dilution. Under the Trademark Dilution Revision Act of 2006, the NCHFPC need only show that the campaign's use of the phrase is likely to cause dilution. However, they must also demonstrate that their use of the phrase is "famous" and "distinctive." Canning executives' claims aside, the "plaintiffs" here would be unlikely to meet this burden.

The full story can be accessed here.