Democratic Committee Nixes Razorback Image After U of A Complaint

Razorback hog in political ad

The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee said Wednesday it will no longer use a Razorback image in future political advertising.

That comes more than a week after the University of Arkansas asked the Democratic committee to stop using the image.

The Washington, D.C.-based Democratic committee recently used a Hog image in campaign literature criticizing Rep. Charlie Collins, R-Fayetteville. Collins, a first-term legislator, is vying for the state House District 84 seat against Adella Gray, a Fayetteville Democrat.

Harold J. Evans, a lawyer with Williams & Anderson, a Little Rock law firm, sent the Democratic committee a cease-and-desist letter on Oct. 22 on the university’s behalf, telling them to stop using the image.

Lawyers for the Democratic committee replied in a letter to Evans on Wednesday, saying the committee paid a website for the image it used in its mailing. The committee also noted the image it used is “distinct” from the university’s Razorback logo.

The committee’s letter, from Washington, D.C., lawyers Brian G. Svoboda and Jonathan S. Berkon, adds the committee has no plans to refer to the university in future campaign literature or use the Hog image.

Spokesman Dan Roth said the committee paid for the image from istockphoto.com. On the site, the image is titled “Razorback Tough.” Use of the image is $25, according to the site.

“It’s not the official image,” Roth said.

One mail piece the committee sent to voters in District 84 asserts that Collins has not been supportive of the university in his initial two-year House term. (That mail piece is shown in the photograph accompanying this story.)

The letter from Evans states that the name, mascot, seal and logos associated with the University of Arkansas are trademarks registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The university controls these images through its licensing program, and any unauthorized use could be “actionable” under federal and state law, according to the letter.  

Unauthorized use of the items dilutes their distinctiveness as the university’s exclusive symbols, the letter states.

However, the committee letter to Evans on Wednesday claims that a discussion of legislative issues, such as the points laid out in the mail piece, is not subject to a trademark dilution claim under federal law.

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