Saturday, January 31, 2009

Bloomberg: 'White House Lawyers Look to Limit Commercial Use of President'

The White House better hurry up and hire an IP Czar - it may have some enforcing to do! Bloomberg reports that the counsel's office is gearing up to start dealing with all the corporations trying to cash in on Obamamania by incorporating the Presidents' -- and even his daughters' -- likeness into their advertising campaigns. Reports Bloomberg:

White House lawyers want to control the use of the president’s image, recognizing the worldwide fascination about Obama’s election, First Amendment free-speech rights and easy access to videos and photos on the Web.

“Our lawyers are working on developing a policy that will protect the presidential image while being careful not to squelch the overwhelming enthusiasm that the public has for the president,” White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.

Bloomberg lists a few examples of Obama ad campaigns that even we here at C&C HQ weren't aware of:
Obama’s calls for change and his “Yes We Can” campaign mantra are being evoked to sell assembly-required furniture in Ikea’s “Embrace Change” marketing campaign, bargain airfares during Southwest Airlines Inc.’s “Yes You Can” sale and “Yes Pecan” ice cream at Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Inc. shops.
Additional examples cited by Bloomberg include the National Education Association, McKinstry Co., the lobbying group American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, and J. Crew, whose clothes famously adorned Malia and Sasha Obama at the inauguration.

Good luck to the counsel's office on dealing with the tricky trademark, right of publicity, and First Amendment issues raised by these ad campaigns. I have a pretty good guess as to who will get this assignment. That is, unless the White House's own advertising law expert keeps this one for herself.

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