Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Judge to decide on ‘apple’ dispute between Hogan, union

At left in this composite image is the design of a registered service mark issued by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to the Montgomery County Education Association in 2009, for political advocacy services. At right is the Teachers for Hogan logo, which the Maryland State Education Association seeks to enjoin the Hogan campaign from using. (U.S. Patent and Trademark Office / Hogan for Governor)

At left in this composite image is the design of a registered service mark issued by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to the Montgomery County Education Association in 2009, for political advocacy services. At right is the Teachers for Hogan logo, which the Maryland State Education Association seeks to enjoin the Hogan campaign from using. (U.S. Patent and Trademark Office / Hogan for Governor)

ROCKVILLE — A judge will rule Monday on a request for a preliminary injunction that would prevent Republican Gov. Larry Hogan’s campaign from using an apple logo to promote his support from some teachers.

Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge Michael Mason said he would take the weekend to consider arguments made by lawyers representing the Maryland State Education Association and the governor’s campaign. The association — which represents 75,000 teachers statewide, filed suit more than a week ago, alleging Hogan’s use of an apple logo coupled with the phrase “teachers for” violates a trademark they registered in 2009.

“This is clearly an attempt to confuse the public,” said Kristy Anderson, attorney for the teacher’s union.

Anderson argued the use of the apple, which replaced the “o” in Hogan’s name, and the phrase “teachers for” mimics the union’s “apple ballot” used to highlight candidates who have been endorsed by the union. Additionally, Anderson said, the union takes issue with Hogan’s use of a red apple with the phrase “teacher for Hogan” on it.

Hogan’s campaign used that image only on a social media post in which the governor highlighted that he was being sued by the union for the use of an image of an apple.

Anderson argued that such uses “dilute the importance of the mark for the candidates we endorse.”

The suit seeks a temporary injunction against the Hogan campaign. The union also asks the court to issue a permanent prohibition against using the logo or campaign materials containing the logo and an order requiring the Hogan campaign to destroy any campaign materials using the logo.

The logo, the outline of an apple, is protected by a registered service mark that is widely used in “apple ballots” for candidates endorsed by the union. The union is endorsing Ben Jealous, Hogan’s Democratic opponent in the gubernatorial race.

“(Hogan) doesn’t want their endorsement, and he’s not seeking to confuse,” said Timothy Maloney, a former legislator and partner at Greenbelt-based Joseph, Greenwald & Laake P.A., who is representing the Hogan campaign.

Maloney argued that the teacher’s union’s apple — registered as an outline — was not unique and therefore not protected and doesn’t cover all uses.

“We have lots and lots and lots and lots of many apples in the public domain,” said Maloney.

Maloney said the union is overreaching in whom they can speak for by trying to take away the right of individual educators to publicly support someone not endorsed by their union.

“This is not some guy out there saying, ‘Look, we’re trying to confuse you,'” said Maloney, noting that the social media post by the governor’s campaign also noted he had not been endorsed by the union. “The governor’s campaign frankly was using this to call attention to how unfair the union is being. I think the primary problem here is that the teachers union seeks to appropriate the right to speak for the entire teaching profession.”

 


To purchase a reprint of this article, contact reprints@thedailyrecord.com.