Three Seattle-based companies have threatened legal action against a Republican candidate for using their logos in advertisements attacking liberal policies.
What is going on?
In recent weeks, Tiffany Smiley’s campaign has released several ads attacking Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), whom she is challenging in the 2022 midterm elections, and Democrats over high food prices, high crime, and policies that are bad for business.
Two of those ads, one called “Game Day” and another called “Cup of coffee,” included logos or other corporate identifiers from Starbucks, the Seattle Seahawks, and the Seattle Times.
After the “Game Day” ad aired showing Smiley’s husband in a Seahawks jersey, the NFL team sent Smiley’s campaign a letter accusing the campaign of unauthorized use of the team’s intellectual property and demanded the campaign “immediately” remove all Seahawks trademarks from the ad.
The Smiley campaign complied.
Then, after the “Cup of coffee” ad aired, Starbucks wrote Smiley’s campaign on Sept. 23 demanding the campaign remove a Starbucks sign from the ad, claiming its inclusion harms Starbucks. Ironically, the sign was on a shuttered Starbucks, which allegedly closed to due to high crime. The point of the ad was to lay bare the consequences of Democratic policies.
Finally, the Seattle Times sent the Smiley campaign a cease-and-desist letter for including the paper’s logo in the “Cup of coffee” ad. The newspaper sent a second letter last week threatening “further action” if the campaign does not comply with its demands.
Cup of coffee
How did the campaign respond?
Smiley’s campaign filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission last week alleging the Seattle Times is illegally helping Murray by allowing the Democratic senator to use the newspaper’s logos in previous election ads, but enforcing copyright laws against Smiley when she does so.
“Woke corporations thought they could help Patty Murray by BULLYING Tiffany with senseless legal threats. Their efforts have both failed and backfired,” said Smiley’s campaign manager, Kristian Hemphill.