New logo for Democratic National Committee looks identical to two other businesses’ but legal challenges unlikely

Jeff Winkler Contributor
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The new Democrat logo — a simple, blue “D” enshrined in a Giotto circle – resembles a comic book superhero’s emblem. In reality, however, the DNC’s choice looks strangely familiar, at least for two well-established businesses.

DNC chairman Tim Kaine unveiled the new logo last month, which included the tag line, “Change That Matters.” It didn’t take long, however, for folks to notice more of the same.  That is, there were certain similarities between the new DNC brand and the logo of Ohio-based pizza chain, Dewey’s Pizza.

The pie joint, in fact, compares the two logos rather pointedly on the homepage of its website. Emblazoned on the DNC’s redesign are a couple questions: “THEY STOLE OUR LOGO?” and “Does this look suspiciously familiar?”

If Dewey’s owner Andrew E. DeWitt’s political inclinations weren’t clear enough, the Atlantic’s blog spelled out the rest. Current staff editor (and former Dewey’s St. Louis employee) Chris Good* noted that DeWitt is “a Republican donor, having given money to Bush/Cheney in ’04, Mitt Romney in ’08, Ohio Rep. Jean Schmidt (R) this year, and multiple state Republican parties along the way.”

DeWitt was not available for comment but an employee who works directly for the owner said that the first Dewey’s opened up in 1998 and there are currently 15 stores in three states. The DNC’s choice in logo, she said, was “kinda funny.”

Less funny, however, is the matter of the “modern boutique” Hotel Derek in Houston, Texas, where the logo looks almost identical to the DNC’s new logo:

Hotel Derek’s marketing manager Jessica Henry said the company has had a service mark on that particular design since 2004.

Trademarks fall under three categories: trademarks, which appear on goods; service marks, which serve to identify businesses; and certification marks, which indicate that products comply with particular standards.

So could the DNC  get in trouble for taking Hotel Derek’s logo?

After being informed of the similarities between the two logos, Henry said the company is “currently investigating the matter,” but refused to comment further.

The DNC was not available for comment regarding whether or not they’ve applied for a trademark. A cursory search of the United States Patent and Trademark Office appears to suggest that the DNC does not have a filing for its new mark, which doesn’t mean they won’t file eventually, according to trademark lawyers who spoke to The Daily Caller.

Late last month, the Republican National Committee made headlines when its registered logo – a star-spangled elephant – was appropriated by former Georgia Democratic Gov. Roy Barnes, who is making another run for his old office, in a “Republicans for Roy” promotion. The RNC has threatened legal action because the use of its logo is “clearly designed to mislead the public into thinking that Mr. Barnes is someone he is not.”

Trademark lawyers who spoke to TheDC said that there was probably no legal issue with regards to the DNC’s logo. Trademarks are based on individual markets and unless the brand is extremely strong, it’s unlikely there are any legal implications because people are unlikely to confuse the two different products.

It appears that there will be no major issue as long as Democrats stay out of the hotel business.

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* An original version of this article referred to ‘Chris Good’ as ‘Chris Goody’