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Updated: Group opposing health care orders DNC to stop using its slogan

Anita Kumar

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.)
--Staff writer Dan Eggen contributed to this report

By Anita Kumar  |  March 27, 2010; 10:58 AM ET
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Timothy M. Kaine  
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From a fervent supporter of Obama and everything Democratic: the DNC should let the right wingers spout their slogan -- it definitely has a different meaning now! I'd say the right would be foolish to keep it.

Posted by: ekorea | March 28, 2010 1:01 AM | Report abuse

sue the dnc for all it's worth...

Posted by: DwightCollins | March 28, 2010 5:23 AM | Report abuse

How about a swap, 'hands off my health care' in exchange for 'hands off my sex and procreation life'?

Posted by: rowens1 | March 28, 2010 9:14 AM | Report abuse

Repeal and replace the Republican Party!
Democrats Care!
Republicans Don't!

Posted by: lunetrick | March 28, 2010 11:21 AM | Report abuse

Well, of course…if you can’t marginalize it or demonize it then co-opt it. Lies and even more lies; theft and even more theft: the only things that democrats actually excel at.

And to think, I used to actually be one...what the hell was I thinking?

Posted by: sosueme1 | March 28, 2010 12:33 PM | Report abuse

Did they copyright it or something? Otherwise why not use it? There are a lot of us who want the Republican to keep their hands off the new reform law. We value that more people will be covered. We value that the insurance companies' ponzi scheme has now been made illegal--the scheme of having you pay in for all your healthy years and then cutting you off when you get truly ill because you lose your job or health insurance and now you have a so-called "pre-existing illness."

I join the crowd in saying, "Republicans, keep your hands off our health care!"

Posted by: tinyjab40 | March 28, 2010 2:02 PM | Report abuse

What else can these fruitcakes who do not want their fellow citizens to have health care do except make noise. That is all they have. They don't give a damned about anyone else except themselves. They pretend anyone without health insurance is just lazy and doesn't want to work. However, most of these people do work and they do the rotten jobs that make our lives better, but receive very little pay.
Republicans and their selfish supporters want everything they can get from the government but resent others who do also. The filthy lying demagogues on the right, are just too unAmerican and unChristian to want others to prosper. All one has to do is look at those citizens in the southern states where all those screamer hyena teabaggers come from and notice how many of their own neighbors are dirt poor.
They preach about God while carrying their guns ready to use them for the slightest reason. They collect their Social Security and Medicare payments while pretending they don't. I'll believe they're concerned about the deficit when I see them give back their Social Security and Medicare benefits. Without those federal benefits they'd see their parents and themselves out on the street. Phony whiners all of them.

Posted by: papafritz571 | March 28, 2010 2:05 PM | Report abuse

Even if the phrase is trademarked, would the DNC's use of the slogan fall under parody protections?

Posted by: dkp01 | March 28, 2010 4:08 PM | Report abuse

The DNC should become a corporation. Then it could say whatever it wants.

Posted by: Please_Fix_VAs_Roads | March 29, 2010 9:56 AM | Report abuse

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