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Group opposing health care orders DNC to stop using its slogan

Americans for Prosperity, a national anti-tax group that has been lobbying against the federal health care overhaul for months, demanded the Democratic National Committee stop using the slogan "hands off my health care" in millions of dollars of radio ads, the group told us today.

In a cease and desist letter sent late Friday, the group told the DNC and its chairman, former Virginia governor Timothy M. Kaine, that AFP has been using the phrase since May 2009 and filed a U.S. trademark application in March, though it was not finalized until this week.

"We appreciate the DNC's acknowledgement that our message resonates with the American people," AFP President Tim Phillips said. "But we can't have our activists - or the DNC's - confused about whose project they're talking about."

For the past year, groups opposing the federal health care overhaul, including AFP, have used the "hands off our health care" phrase at rallies and town halls meetings, in and on posters.

AFP told us Saturday that it has consulted with lawyers and plans on suing if the DNC does not stop using the phrase by April 2. The slogan was first used at a Virginia rally in the spring of 2009 when the group kicked off a national "hands off my health care" tour.

"AFP has spent millions of dollars branding 'hands of my health care' and using that message in its fight for real health care reform,'' said Ben Marchi, the group's state director.

The organization acknowledges it did not finalize its trademark application until Friday -- after the DNC began running its ads -- but said it began the trademark process March 12 and has been using the motto and variations of it since May 2009.

DNC spokesman Brad Woodhouse said Saturday that AFP's complaint lacks merit and that Democrats will continue to use the slogan. "This group used this slogan to try and deny millions of people access to affordable health care," he said. "We should have sued them for false advertising a long time ago."

The DNC launched a radio ad campaign targeting House Republicans who voted against the health care bill, but who represent districts that President Obama carried in 2008.

"Now leading Republicans are vowing to repeal reform -- and put the insurance industry back in charge of your health care," a narrator in the ad says. "Call Congressman [name] at [phone number] and tell him: 'Hands Off Our Health Care.'"

The radio ads are airing in the districts of the following Republicans: Rep. Dan Lungren (Calif.), Rep. Mary Bono Mack (Calif.), Rep. Mike Castle (Del.), Rep. Mark Kirk (Ill.), Rep. Joseph Cao (La.), Rep. Lee Terry (Neb.), Rep. Pat Tiberi (Ohio), Rep. Jim Gerlach (Pa.), Rep. Charlie Dent (Pa.) and Rep. Dave Reichert (Wash.)
--By Anita Kumar
--Staff writer Dan Eggen contributed to this report

By Liz McGehee  |  March 27, 2010; 1:16 PM ET
Categories:  44 The Obama Presidency  
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Comments

The whole idea that a simple phrase in common English could be granted trademark protection... so that the government could thereafter be persuaded to levy sanctions upon someone else for using the phrase, is already ludicrous (even in a commercial context).

In the context of political speech, the demand that someone else say or not say things a particular way is absurd. This is what the First Amendment is all about.

Posted by: Iconoblaster | March 29, 2010 2:01 PM | Report abuse

Hey, Americans for Prosperity, think you can sue us for saying "Hands Off My Healthcare?"

"(H)(e)(l)(l), No You Can't!!!!!!"

Posted by: jade_7243 | March 28, 2010 9:32 PM | Report abuse

Did Wendy's sue Walter Mondale for using "Where's the beef?" against Gary Hart during 1984 presidential candidate? Nope.

Posted by: cdreimer | March 28, 2010 2:42 AM | Report abuse

"AFP has spent millions of dollars branding 'hands of my health care' and using that message in its fight for real health care reform," said Ben Marchi, the group's state director.

LOL - "REAL health care reform" - like the GOP's plan that covers 3 million? Three!
Maybe if we'd waited another 10 years, the GOP could have concocted a plan for 30 million of us?
During the 2008 election, Democratic candidates produced comprehensive HCR plans. GOP candidates had ideas, but nothing extensive Pres. Obama and the Democrats were elected in 2008 to pass HCR! They listened to the voters - and now we have ObamaCare - woohoo!
AFP's only interest in health care reform is zilch or stalling it. Period.

Posted by: angie12106 | March 28, 2010 1:57 AM | Report abuse

"AFP has spent millions of dollars branding 'hands of my health care' and using that message in its fight for real health care reform," said Ben Marchi, the group's state director.

LOL - "REAL health care reform" - like the GOP's plan that covers 3 million? Three!
Maybe if we'd waited another 10 years, the GOP could have concocted a plan for 30 million of us?
During the 2008 election, Democratic candidates produced comprehensive HCR plans. GOP candidates had ideas, but nothing extensive Pres. Obama and the Democrats were elected in 2008 to pass HCR! They listened to the voters - and now we have ObamaCare - woohoo!
AFP's only interest in health care reform is zilch or stalling it. Period.

Posted by: angie12106 | March 28, 2010 1:57 AM | Report abuse

To claim a trade mark, you need to have trade. There is no commercial activity here, thus no violation.

Posted by: kemurph | March 28, 2010 12:16 AM | Report abuse

Democrats that lie, cheat and steal, is nothing new.

Democrats, incapable of an original idea, again nothing new.


"Yes We Can"

Posted by: dashriprock | March 27, 2010 10:46 PM | Report abuse

I suggest that we, the people, sue Republicans for violating the truth in advertising law...They have no healthcare ideas, plan or bill...

Hands Off My Healthcare

Posted by: SCVoter | March 27, 2010 9:29 PM | Report abuse

And if a court rules that the DNC can't use that simple phrase...wouldn't that be an example of big government, through an activist court, dictating what people can and can't say?

Clear proof that the corporate groups backing the tea party movement have no problem with big government when it suits their needs. Their sliminess in whipping up and manipulating fear of government is astounding.

Posted by: matt731 | March 27, 2010 7:42 PM | Report abuse

Do they want to copyright leggo my eggo too?

They should use the now famous "keep your government hands off my Medicare." It is far closer to the mindset of the teabagging crowd.

Posted by: John1263 | March 27, 2010 7:30 PM | Report abuse

Hey this a great idea!

I want to trademark:
"order in the court"
"The court so orders"
"Vote Republican"
"This court will come to order"


Etc.

Get real people this way madness lies, you can not have people trademarking commonly used language.

Some times I think the US judiciary needs a swift boot up the fundament.

Maybe it is time to fine all members of the judiciary's every time one the makes such a stupid rulling.

Posted by: walker1 | March 27, 2010 6:43 PM | Report abuse

Haands offf my Helth Kare (sign at DC bag rally). Using this spelling probably avoids trademark infringement. The repub. party is considering a trademark app. for, "Hell, NO" but Boehner said "Hell NO" to that and is suing the RNC. But the RNC replied "Hell NO" it's not our fault, it's the John McCain/Palin ticket that's giving disservice a bad name.

Posted by: hoser3 | March 27, 2010 6:41 PM | Report abuse

Tim Phillips may be a slimier snake in the grass than Dick Armey,LLC. By the way, AFP original phrase was "Hands off my, Who Cares?".

Posted by: hoser3 | March 27, 2010 6:30 PM | Report abuse

I hope they do sue-that will mean less funds for them to use to spread their lies

Posted by: davidlwickham | March 27, 2010 6:29 PM | Report abuse

Silly Republicans. These people should not even be allowed to speak. All they do is represented the vicious, Nazi like profit seeking, person killing insurance companies. Corporations and their minions should not be allowed to speak, only those who speak for the people should be allowed to engage in political debate. Only those who favor national health care are looking out for the people. Silence this opposition immediately!!!

Posted by: Pelosiforpres | March 27, 2010 5:41 PM | Report abuse

By all means let them have their slogan. Why invite being confused with those lying, fear-mongering "grassroot" corporate toadies at "Hands Off My Health Care"?

Posted by: st50taw | March 27, 2010 5:41 PM | Report abuse

I have just submitted trademark applications for 63,598 different combinations using the word healthcare. Soon both parties and sub agencies (fake groups) will need to pay me to talk!

Posted by: NewThoughts | March 27, 2010 5:03 PM | Report abuse

I'm not sure that you can legally trademark a phrase that's been used in the public domain by multiple groups. And even if you could, they would need to notify all the groups with a cease and desist. You can't selected protect your trademark, it's all or nothing.

They missed their opportunity for a trademarking a year ago.

Posted by: James10 | March 27, 2010 4:49 PM | Report abuse

What health care are republicans talking about? They offered nothing to American families.

Posted by: truth1 | March 27, 2010 4:44 PM | Report abuse

I have 1 message for crazy tbags - "Hands off my health care!"

Posted by: edfunk1 | March 27, 2010 2:40 PM | Report abuse

So much for grassroots.

Posted by: lostinthemiddle | March 27, 2010 2:31 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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