The wave of President Obama merchandise seems to be cresting as the inauguration draws near. This article from CNN http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/01/18/obama.cool/index.html presents some intersting commentary as to why the merchandise is so popular, along with imagery of the range of products–enough to parallel the licensing campaigns of legends like James Dean! Unfortunately, no where in the article does the question of whether these products are legal is even addressed. Now, I wouldn’t expect the issue to be resolved in such an article, nor could it be since there is so much gray area surrounding the commercial use of a political figure. But the issue is at least worth an honorable mention. In the photograph, I spy a product that uses the “I♥ Obama” product. Many people tend to be surprised that the “I♥__” phrase is a registered trademark of the New York State Department of Economic Development (I♥NY), and is the centerpiece of a vibrant licensing program of its own. I won’t analyze here whether that particular product in the CNN article constitutes an infringement of the NY trademark as well, but it wouldn’t be the first time infringing merchandise steps on the toes of multiple intellectual property owners at the same time.
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