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Newspaper settles suit over use of nameplate in political ads

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    News Media Update         OKLAHOMA         Copyrights & Trademarks    

Newspaper settles suit over use of nameplate in political ads

  • A Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate will stop using the nameplate The Daily Oklahoman’s namplate in political advertisements under a settlement agreement reached today.

July 8, 2004 — An Oklahoma newspaper settled a lawsuit today with a U.S. Senate candidate who used its nameplate in his campaign advertisements.

Bob Anthony, the Republican nominee, agreed to stop running the advertisements after July 13. He further agreed to not run any additional advertisements that would portray The Daily Oklahoman ‘s copyrighted nameplate without permission, according to the settlement agreement.

The ads featured articles published in the Oklahoman ‘s inside pages. However, Anthony’s campaign positioned the articles under the newspaper’s nameplate in ads to appear as if they were front-page, above-the-fold news.

“We don’t have any problem with candidates taking news stories [for] ads, so long as they are accurate,” Ed Kelley, the newspaper’s editor, said. “It is the use of our brand that is the problem, particularly when the story is being distorted.”

Anthony, a state corporation commissioner, has run similar ads in his three previous statewide races, with no complaint from the newspaper, said Bill Shapard, Anthony’s campaign manager.

The agreement allows Anthony to continue to run the ads through July 13, their originally scheduled end date.

The Oklahoman filed suit July 2 in U.S. District Court in Oklahoma City alleging distortion of the articles’ original placement in the newspaper as well as copyright infringement over the use of the newspaper’s nameplate.

“That nameplate is our brand and all we have is our brand and our reputation,” Kelley said. “When something is used in a wrongful way, it harms our brand.”

Anthony’s campaign argued that the use of the newspaper’s nameplate over articles that did not originally appear on the front page was not deception.

“We did it to help people understand that the article ran in The Daily Oklahoman , which is very recognized in this state,” Shapard said. “We wanted to try to make sure the viewer was not deceived.”

Kelley said other political candidates have used the Oklahoman ‘s nameplate in their campaign advertisements but have generally stopped running the ads when asked.

“This is the first time a candidate basically defied our request and ran the ads anyway,” Kelley said. “It’s a leaky boat. You can’t always stop them, but we felt very strongly about this.”

(The Oklahoma Publishing Company v. Anthony; Media Counsel: Michael Minnis, Doerner Saunders Daniel & Anderson, Oklahoma City) CZ

© 2004 The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

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