California Republican Party files trademark lawsuit against Democrat-controlled PAC over mailers in special Senate election

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. – The California Republican Party filed a trademark infringement complaint against the Democrat-run Asian American Small Business Political Action Committee for its unlawful use of the iconic Republican trademarked, registered elephant image, misrepresenting the CRP in multiple mailers (which can be viewed here) ostensibly supporting Michaela Hertle, a candidate in the special State Senate District 7 election, this month, who withdrew from the race weeks prior to the publication of the offending mailers. The lawsuit seeks injunctive relief, monetary damages, treble damages for willful infringement, and fees and costs of suit.

Deceptive ads like these mislead voters and misinform them about the positions and endorsements of the California Republican Party,” said California Republican Party Chairman Senator Jim Brulte (Ret.). “It’s egregious on the part of a Democratic Political Action Committee to intentionally deceive Californians with its use of well-known Republican images.”

In the 2013-2014 election cycle the PAC only contributed to Democratic candidates including Sharon Quirk-Silva who was running against a Republican Korean American. For this PAC to claim that it is bipartisan is a false representation of its values as shown by its recent actions, including opposing Republican Asian American candidates for legislative office. The PAC’s FPPC independent expenditure reports filed on February 26 and March 4, 2015 lists its sources of funding for these mailers as four unions. [$50,000 AFSCME; $50,000 CA Professional Firefighters; $40,000 SEIU; $10,000 CA Nurses Association].

The Democrat-run PAC recently began distributing the mailers that featured the trademarked image, unapproved by the CRP, to voters in Senate District 7, where a special election is taking place on March 17. Immediately upon being made aware of the trademark infringement, the CRP issued a cease and desist letter, which the PAC ignored as it paid for and distributed yet another mailer, the second one with even more offending, unauthorized elephant images.

This lawsuit [is] about protecting our property, but more importantly protecting the integrity of the political process and the rights of California voters not to be misled by blatant misconduct of this nature,” said California Republican Party Vice Chairman Harmeet K. Dhillon. “The PAC continued to publish a second mailer and deceive voters even after legal counsel for the California Republican Party sent it a cease and desist demand. We will pursue legal action against individuals and organizations who deceptively use our trademarked images without our authorization.”

Besides here elected position within the state party, Dhillon is also an attorney for the CRP, which as has multiple attorneys. She and her team of lawyers, who specialize in trademark infringement, filed the suit on behalf of the party.

From time to time we have people who misappropriate our trademark,” Dhillon stated. “This is the first time the party has filed a lawsuit on something like this, since I’ve been involved. We’re seeking a court order that they never do this, again. They were warned in writing. We haven’t had a situation like this, before.”

This is pretty brazen,” she added.

The complaint and additional documents can be viewed on the California Republican Party’s website

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