How ‘Bout Them Apples
Gov. Larry Hogan handed Republicans in Maryland a major victory over the Maryland State Education Association (MSEA) Apple ballot dominance last Friday.
Earlier this month the MSEA sent out their obligatory legal reminders that the MSEA owns the apple likeness in reference to political campaigning.
Several candidates, who are running for office right here in Frederick County, got the form letter – giving notice to campaigns – instructing the candidates that under no condition could an apple appear on any campaign literature without the expressed permission by MSEA.
The MSEA has laid claim that it rightfully owns all the current images and future images of the apple when used in politics. In short, the MSEA owns all the likenesses of the fruit in any kind of variation when referencing politics or teachers based on a copyright. The copyright was obtained by the Montgomery County chapter of the MSEA in 2009.
The union is the first to remind candidate of the awe-inspiring political effects the apple has on local races. This was covered in my Tentacle article last week. The cry for the local GOP to do something meaningful was met with Governor Hogan taking up the cause directly. Help was on the way.
The MSEA is used to bullying local conservative candidates who scare easily from the added pressure of a lawsuit during the election cycle. Chances are the candidates does have teachers supporting them, but they can't mention it for fear of MSEA court proceeding. The MSEA leadership had the intimidation down to an art that would have impressed even Jimmy Hoffa.
That changed last week when the MSEA threatened to sue Gov. Larry Hogan personally along with his entire campaign. The threat stemmed from a Bumper Sticker with an apple on it. The phrase "Teachers for Hogan" just could not be given away without a fight. All this was transpiring while MSEA still struggles to find anyone interested in their "Teachers for Jealous" material.
Danielle Gaines reported in marylandmatters.org (MMO) on Friday that the Apple Ballot bit off more than it could chew in court.
MMO reported that Montgomery County Circuit Court was greeted with a temporary restraining order request filed early Friday by MSEA to keep the fact that teachers are supporting Governor Hogan from being displayed. MSEA had crossed the Rubicon.
Maryland conservatives danced a jig as Governor Hogan's crack legal team took to task MSEA's claim of complete political ownership of the fruits image. The Circuit Court judge was persuaded and denied MSEA's restraining order request but set a hearing for Friday September 28 to go over the preliminary injunction on an MSEA filed copyright infringement claim.
Following the court loss, MMO reports that MSEA spokesman Adam Mendelsohn tried to play the victim by stating: “It is unfortunate that Governor Hogan’s campaign was not amenable to resolving this matter quickly and without fanfare, thereby forcing us to file a lawsuit to protect our trademark,"
That’s the sound of the vanquished, my friends. The MSEA has until now operated with fear of being challenged. Governor Hogan threw down the gauntlet and challenged MSEA engineered practice of limiting political speech and expression in Maryland that has lasted decades.
The first amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees freedom of political speech and should not be debased by copyright infringement as a means to silence political opponents. The claim of owning all the images of a fruit lacks any substance with which free political expression could be limited in the realm of constitutional law.
MMO reported that Governor Hogan's campaign communications director Scott Sloofman gave his insight following the ill-fated move by MSEA saying: “The image of the apple has been used by PTAs, schools, education groups and public officials for generations. No one owns the generic image of the apple, not even the teachers union. We look forward to establishing this at the preliminary injunction hearing on Friday.”
Others will be looking forward to that hearing as well.
How ‘bout them Apples.