Barack Obama never said, “If you like your trademark, you can keep your trademark,” and apparently you can’t — not if the Obamas want it, anyhow. A small business is learning this the hard way, as the ex-president and Michelle Obama are petitioning to have its lawful trademark cancelled. Otherwise known as intellectual property theft, the Obamas’ justification appears to be, boiled down, “Hey, we’re the Obamas, peon!”
As Fox News reports, the Obamas “have been accused of ‘deplorable behavior’ by a Los Angeles entertainment attorney for filing a ‘meritless petition’ amid a trademark dispute over the name of their company, Higher Ground Productions.”
“The legal team representing the Obamas filed a petition to cancel the trademark of an e-book publishing company called Higher Ground Enterprises, much to the chagrin of the publishing company,” Fox continues.
“‘This is really deplorable behavior. I hope that the Obamas realize that these actions are not consistent with the values they preach and that they instruct their attorneys to immediately dismiss the petition,’ attorney Larry Zerner told Fox News.”
Providing more detail, the Hollywood Reporter writes:
Higher Ground Enterprises is run by Hanisya Massey…. Her trademark is in Class 41, which includes entertainment services. Zerner says Massey has been using “Higher Ground” since 2008.
Naturally, as the Obamas came to a lucrative agreement with Netflix for films and television series, Higher Ground Productions came into conflict with Higher Ground Enterprises.
On April 10, a Trademark Examiner refused to register the Obamas’ claimed mark with a nod to the one held by Massey.
The Obamas, who are fans of Stevie Wonder (whose “Higher Ground” was a chart-topper in 1973) argued the two marks could co-exist in the marketplace.
But the U.S. Trademark Office said no, a word the Obamas apparently don’t take for an answer. So now they’re doing a reverse Robin Hood, trying to steal from the (relatively) poor and give to the rich as they attempt to redistribute someone else’s intellectual property — to themselves.
What’s the Obamas’ rationale? “They claim that the trademark was not used at the time of its granting, but that probably was a function of the Obama economy,” writes American Thinker, “when little startups couldn’t get the capital they needed. What an irony if true.”
“The only other thing they can tell the judge is that they’re the Obamas, and little people just need to get of the way,” the site continues.
Being in the “idea business,” I’ve had the experience of conceiving of something you fancy clever — and getting emotionally invested in this baby you think you birthed — only to learn later its true, dream-crushing parentage.
For the same reason, however, I appreciate how intellectual property can sometimes be just about the only possession some people have; thus can expropriating it be like stealing their life savings.
Attorney Zerner complained that the Obamas’ actions aren’t “consistent with the values they preach.” It’s not just that there’s a difference between preaching and practicing, however; it’s that all the Obamas (and other leftists) have are “values,” which can change with the wind, as opposed to those “good moral habits” and objective realities called virtues. This is why leftists’ specialize in the goalpost shift.
Philosopher C.S. Lewis explained this phenomenon, which relates to leftist hypocrisy, well in his 1943 book The Abolition of Man. “No justification of virtue [preaching, value signaling] will enable a man to be virtuous,” he wrote. “Without the aid of trained emotions the intellect is powerless against the animal organism.”
“I had sooner play cards against a man who was quite skeptical about ethics, but bred to believe that ‘a gentleman does not cheat’,” he continued, with a line reminiscent of the Obamas, “than against an irreproachable moral philosopher who had been brought up among sharpers.”
Interestingly, also apropos here is research I linked to in a Friday piece about how, while Democrat presidential contender Marianne Williamson had thought leftists “were better,” she now realizes they lie and are “mean.” The studies — related in the 2008 article “Don’t listen to the liberals — Right-wingers really are nicer people….” — show that leftists actually manifest many attitudes correlating with psychopathy. To the point here, they’re more likely than conservatives to agree with the statement that “there are no right or wrong ways to make money” (mostly because they don’t believe in right and wrong to begin with).
Enter the Obamas. They have great wealth, fame, prestige, legions of admirers (all undeserved), but it’s not enough. Mercenary and Machiavellian, they want to seize what a little guy has just so they can have more.
It’s a cautionary tale, too: Give leftists enough power, and they’ll never stop redistributing your wealth to themselves — all while preaching you a sermon about the evils of “capitalistic” greed.
Photo of Michelle and Barack Obama: AP Images