The Obamas Are in the Middle of a Trademark Dispute...and They're Not Taking the High Road

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Posted: Sep 06, 2019 8:00 AM
The Obamas Are in the Middle of a Trademark Dispute...and They're Not Taking the High Road

Source: AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File

The Obamas are being accused of “really deplorable behavior” for attempting to cancel the trademark registration for a company that has a similar name to the couple’s movie production company, Higher Ground Productions.

"The Obamas have known for almost a year that their Higher Ground trademark application was rejected by the USPTO because it infringed my client's rights," Larry Zerner, a Los Angeles attorney who is representing Hanisya Massey of Higher Ground Enterprises, told the The Hollywood Reporter. "Instead, of simply picking another name, the Obamas' lawyers have now filed a meritless petition to cancel my client's trademark so they can take it for themselves. This is really deplorable behavior. I hope that the Obamas realize that these actions are not consistent with the values they preach and that they instruct their attorneys to immediately dismiss the petition."

While the Obamas tried to argue both companies could co-exist, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office saw otherwise, believing they were too similar and related in services. 

"The overriding concern is not only to prevent buyer confusion as to the source of the goods and/or services, but to protect the registrant from adverse commercial impact due to use of a similar mark by a newcomer,” the agency said. 

Instead of backing down, the Obamas’ attorney mounted a challenged and filed a petition to cancel the Higher Ground Enterprises trademark, claiming it was not being use at the time of its 2016 registration. 

Apparently the Obamas don’t truly live by their word—that “when they go low, we go high.”

The trademark battle comes as the Obamas have a deal with Netflix to produce films and television series.