Republican Louisiana Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne says the state is suing
MoveOn.org over allegedly infringing on its "Pick Your Passion" trademark because the group should not be allowed to use the brand for its own purposes.
"Obviously I've got a huge amount of respect for the First Amendment and the free speech right of anybody to be critical of government, but MoveOn.org and any other organization does not have a right to use a federally registered trademark in a state registered service mark to convey its message. And basically the image on their billboard and the words were taken right off our website," he told Newsmax TV's John Bachman and J.D. Hayworth on "America's Forum" Thursday.
MoveOn.org has initiated a billboard campaign aimed at pressuring Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal to let the state take part in Medicaid expansion under Obamacare.
"The people of Louisiana have spent $70 million dollars since the oil spill to recover our tourism load, and we've done a great job. We had more people visiting our state in 2012 than ever in our history. We will get some numbers in another month that I think will show that '13 was even better, so we are resilient and we are bouncing back. As the head of tourism in Louisiana I'm very protective of our right to use that mark," Dardenne said.
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Asked why the group's campaign is not considered parody, he replied, "This will be one of the primary issues that will be determined by the courts. The office of tourism is entirely under the purview of my office as lieutenant governor. I run the department. I'm completely separate from the governor. We are elected separately, we don't run as a ticket. I have control of what goes on in tourism and so the parody defense would be applicable to the governor."
"We don't think it's applicable to the brand that has been used to identify Louisiana's tourism efforts…. Our objection is the word 'Louisiana,' the typeface, the coloring. We have exclamation points in lieu of the 'i's in Louisiana in our brand. They have one exclamation point in lieu of an 'i' and then they have an 'i' without an exclamation point, which is a difference and I'm sure it's a difference they'll try to say is significant," Dardenne said.
The lieutenant governor, who is a candidate for governor in 2016 when Jindal will have to step down because of term limits, said there will be a federal court hearing on the preliminary injunction on April 2.
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