Having already served Move.org with a cease-and-desist letter requesting that the organization remove a billboard critical of Gov. Bobby Jindal (R), the state of Louisiana filed a lawsuit against the group on Friday claiming trademark infringement.
According to Times Picayune, the lawsuit, filed in federal court, claims MoveOn.org violated trademark law by putting up the billboard and running television ads critical of Gov. Bobby Jindal that use the state’s tourism logo and motto.
The billboard reads, “LOU!SIANA, Pick your passion! But hope you don’t love your health. Gov. Jindal’s denying Medicaid to 242,000 people.” a reference to the governor’s refusal accept over a billion dollars in federal funds to expand the state’s Medicaid program.
Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne (R) explained that criticism of the governor is fine, but is worried that that billboard and ads will confuse the public with the use of the state advertising slogan: ‘Pick Your Passion.’
“We have invested millions of dollars in identifying the Louisiana: Pick Your Passion brand with all that is good about Louisiana. No group should be allowed to use the brand for its own purposes, especially if it is for partisan political posturing,” Dardenne said in a statement announcing the suit.
“MoveOn.org has every right to attack Gov. Jindal, the state’s refusal to accept Medicaid or, for that matter, me personally,” the statement continued.” But they do not have the right to use our protected service mark, which is used solely for the purpose of promoting and marketing Louisiana. We own the mark and its use is under the direction of my office, not the Office of the Governor.”
Pointing out that “it is very sad to see the state spend taxpayer money on a frivolous lawsuit instead of providing health care to the people of Louisiana,” MoveOn.org Civic Action’s Executive Direct Anna Galland added. “Once our lawyers receive and have a chance to fully review the complaint we will have more to say. In the meantime, we strongly urge Governor Jindal to do the right thing and allow 242,000 Louisianans to access Medicaid.”
Keith Werhan, constitutional law professor at Tulane University Law School, said suits of this type are rarely successful.
“The government can’t legally silence those who are criticizing them.”
You can watch the Move-On video running in Louisiana below: