Bachmann forced to change TV ad falsely implying endorsement by State Fair

We’re late to the game, so there’s no video to embed anymore — it’s already been taken down. But in a nutshell, Bachmann started running a TV ad saying Tarryl Clark raised taxes on beer purchased at the state fair. (She voted for an tax bill incluing an excise tax applying to alcohol, Politico says; it’s not clear whether that was Fair-specific.) This would not itself be a big deal, except that the ad apparently used the state fair logo twice. The State Fair does not wish to be seen as endorsing any candidate, so they asked her to remove it. The MinnPost called their attorney to ask whether this could be considered “fair use,” which is a defense against a copyright violation lawsuit. He says:

“ ‘Fair use’ does not allow a speaker to use someone else’s trademark in a way that falsely suggests that the trademark owner sponsors or endorses the speaker’s activities or positions. The statement of the State Fair makes clear that the Fair does not endorse Rep. Bachmann’s advertisement or any other political advertisement, so if some viewers reasonably might understand logo’s appearance in the advertisement as an endorsement by the Fair, that suggestion in the advertisement would be false and an unfair use of the trademark.”

Was it Bachmann’s intention to suggest an endorsement? We know what we suspect.

Edit: The Strib notes that other claims in the ad (we wish we’d seen it) are misleading: Clark voted to raise a general sales tax, not specific taxes on corn dogs, bacon and other cholesterol-tastic State Fair food.


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