Barack and Michelle Obama have a new Hollywood production company and have a content deal with Netflix. They called their company Higher Ground Productions, that name, however, had already been taken.
So the Obamas applied for a trademark and they got rejected. And instead of taking it and changing the name or maybe negotiating with the company that already uses the name, they filed a petition to cancel the trademark of an e-book publishing company called Higher Ground Enterprises.
“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,” attorney Larry Zerner said in a statement for Fox News that was first given to The Hollywood Reporter.
Zerner also told Fox News that the “Obamas have known for almost a year” that their Higher Ground Productions trademark application was rejected by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office because it was too similar to his client’s Higher Ground Enterprises.
“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,” Zerner said.
Zerner also told Fox News that his client’s motive is “not political” and Higher Ground Enterprises simply wants to keep its name and avoid confusion with the Obamas company.
The Obamas told the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office that their production company would never be mistaken for an e-book publisher despite the similar name.
“[T]he consumers of ‘media production services’ covered by the Application are likely to be highly sophisticated,” the Obamas’ team stated in a letter to the Trademark Office, according to THR. “Media production services are generally offered not to individual consumers but to commercial entities and professionals in their field.”
The letter continued: “Indeed, Applicant has entered a deal with Netflix in connection with its media production services. Such customers, whether multi-billion-dollar media companies or smaller commercial entities in need of media production services, will exercise the height of care in selecting a media production company and are highly unlikely to be confused by a photographer or e-book publisher — particularly when the other party uses a distinguishable mark.”