Visit Philly Stops Anti-Trump Group From Copying “With Love” Campaign

The tourism org owns the trademark and says that its use was unauthorized.

Left: The problematic image. Right: An official advertisement from Visit Philly.

Left: The problematic image. Right: An official advertisement from Visit Philly.

We’ve all seen those popular “With Love, Philadelphia” ads put out by Visit Philly, the nonprofit company charged with bringing more tourists to Philadelphia. They appear online, in newspapers and magazines, and on television and billboards, promoting everything from bike sharing to the Phillies to the city’s stellar restaurant scene. But we’ve never seen one that jumps into the incendiary political fray, so we were a little bewildered when we saw one on Monday that seemed to be telling Donald Trump to stay out of Philadelphia, where he’s visiting later this week.

Of course, Visit Philly had nothing to do with the ad, as we quickly learned upon contacting Philly We Rise, the group behind it. Philly We Rise, an initiative of Media Mobilizing Project and 215 People’s Alliance, has all sorts of anti-Trump events on the books, like the “Queer Rage(r): Guerilla Dance Party” on Wednesday and “Surround the Loews Hotel” on Thursday, targeting the location of the Republican retreat and Trump’s visit this week.

“[The ad] is not sanctioned by Visit Philly,” a representative of Philly We Rise told us.

Cara Schneider of Visit Philly quickly concurred.

“It’s not an authorized use,” she explained, later adding that Visit Philly owns the relevant trademark, as a quick search at the United States Patent & Trademark office confirmed — meaning you can’t just go sticking “With Love, Philadelphia” along with some Xs and Os on your own stuff.

But wait. Isn’t this covered by fair use, that legal doctrine that allows for parody? Isn’t the “Dear Donald, You are not welcome here” ad a parody of those Visit Philly campaigns?

That’s what Philly We Rise thought, telling us that “it does fall under the realm of fair use.”

But no, says Center City intellectual property Jordan LaVine, of the firm Flaster/Greenberg.

“For it to be a parody, they would have to making commentary on the original mark or the services provided under that mark,” says LaVine, whose clients include the New York Times, Martha Stewart, Ancestry.com, and GrubHub. “I don’t think they’re doing that here. And even with a parody, it still comes down to whether the average person would be confused. In this case, I think the average person would think the original organization is endorsing or sponsoring.”

Philly We Rise seems to have taken the hint, changing the image within hours of Visit Philly reaching out to them.

donald-trump-philadelphia-visit-philly-ad

Kind of makes the same point, albeit without the same panache.

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