Intellectual Property

Solutions to "Solutions for America"

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As Hillary Clinton–and Morton® Salt–could tell you, "When it rains it pours."® Or something.

She's already spiraling down in the polls, and pretty much everyone has given up on her pulling the Democratic nomination back from Barack Obama.

Now, reports Inside Higher Ed, she might have a trademark and/or copyright problem, courtesy of the Univ. of Richmond (whose excellent team name is the Spiders):

Hillary Clinton's campaign has of late been pushing charges that Barack Obama plagiarized some phrases in his campaign speeches.

But what about one of Clinton's favorite phrases: "Solutions for America"? It's the name for many of her campaign events. Today will feature "Solutions for America" rallies by the campaign in Ohio, and the phrase has appeared as backdrop for many campaign rallies. It turns out, however, that an organization other than the Clinton campaign has the rights to the phrase.

"Solutions for America" is the registered trademark of a University of Richmond program with the Pew Charitable Trusts to help local communities work on a series of social problems. The emphases of the program—promoting child health, reviving neighborhoods, creating jobs—have considerable overlap with Clinton campaign themes….

The Web site of "Solutions for America" clearly indicates on the bottom a copyright by the University of Richmond and the database of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office indicates that Richmond obtained the trademark on the phrase, going through the standard legal process to do so….

We do know that Richmond takes its trademark rights seriously, and doesn't like other entities using the phrase.

In 2005, for example, the American Council on Education started a campaign called "Solutions for Our Future" to highlight the role of higher education in solving problems facing American society. The consulting firm that worked with the ACE on developing that campaign told Inside Higher Ed that year that the group wanted the "Solutions for America" slogan, but that the University of Richmond had rights to the phrase and wouldn't share them.

More here.

I think it was me–no, wait it was Bob Dylan, but what the hell–who once croaked, "Steal a little and they throw you in jail; steal a lot and they make you king." I generally find most intellectual property laws are stupid (trademark not nearly as much as copyright), but the real crime here might be the stultifyingly banal slogans not just Clinton but most pols and institutions trot out like so many crippled ponies.

reason on intellectual property/copyright/etc.

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