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Protecting the Palin Brand: Sarah and Bristol Go for Trademark Status

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Sarah Palin has become an industry. The former Alaskan governor has had books deals, starred in a reality television show and set up a political PAC that raised $3.5 million last year. Through midterm election endorsements, broadcast on her 2.7 million-fan Facebook page or via her 400,000 follower Twitter feed, Palin has cemented alliances to new GOP governors such as South Carolina’s Nikki Haley and various members of Congress.

But Palin is more than just a former mayor, governor, vice presidential candidate and political force. She has catapulted over most politicians to a status of entertainment icon. She has become a brand — and she’s trying to protect it by trademarking her name.

The Palin brand is so valuable, that other family members are in on it. Sarah Palin’s 20-year-old daughter, Bristol, is a well-compensated spokeswomen on sexual abstinence for the Candie’s Foundation, has become a reality star in her own right on “Dancing with the Stars” and may land a job as a radio show host in Arizona.

And these savvy women are taking all the prudent steps a brand holder does to protect an asset. In the last several months, Politics Daily has learned that the Palin family lawyer, Alaska attorney Thomas Van Flein, has filed applications to the United States Patent and Trademark Office to trademark “Sarah Palin®” and “Bristol Palin®.”

According to patent office application (serial # 85170226), Van Flein registered for a trademark of “Sarah Palin” on Nov. 5, 2010 — three days after the midterm elections. The government trademark examining attorney has “found no conflicting marks that would bar registration.” In other words, nobody else had already taken the proposed trademark.
A “Bristol Palin” application (serial #85130638) was filed on Sept. 15, 2010. Bristol Palin’s stint with “Dancing With the Stars” premiered on Sept. 20.

Celebrities often trademark their names to protect their image or brand from others who might try to cash in on their likeness or use their name in an inappropriate way.

According to the United States Patent and Trademark Office website, the Palin applications are still active, but not without problems.

For Sarah Palin’s application, there are two classes of commercial service for which her name would be a registered trademark. One is for “information about political elections” and “providing a website featuring information about political issues.” The second is for “educational and entertainment services … providing motivational speaking services in the field of politics, culture, business and values.”

The “Bristol Palin” application is for “educational and entertainment services, namely, providing motivational speaking services in the field of life choices.”

Both applications were assigned to the same examining attorney, Karen K. Bush. Bush is no stranger to trademark applications with a political slant. The patent attorney ruled in 2007 that a man could not file a trademark application on the name Obama bin Laden.

The current status on the Sarah Palin application indicates the patent office wants more information — specifically, it seems the application is missing Sarah Palin’s written consent to have her name trademarked. It is not known whether that issue has been cleared up.

Palin’s application also had other issues. When someone applies for a trademark, the patent office wants an example of how his or her name has been used for a commercial purpose. Examples include “signs, photographs, brochures, website printouts or advertisements” that show the proposed trademark “used in the actual sale or advertising of the services.” The samples submitted with Sarah’s form were a copy of a Fox News Channel webpage dated Jan. 11, 2010 featuring a story with the headline “Palin to Join Fox News as Contributor,” and a PDF file of a screen shot from the Washington Speakers Bureau website containing the former Alaska governor’s biography plus another screen shot of her Facebook profile.

Bush, the examining attorney, wrote that the examples were insufficient and did not show any commercial use connected to political elections. Palin was asked to send another example.

Bush also had questions regarding the initial date — 1996 — that Palin said she first used her name for a commercial purpose. That year, Palin served as a member of the Wasilla City Council and in October 1996 was elected mayor. The query suggests the patent examiner would like Sarah Palin to prove she was using her name at that time in a commercial capacity in regard to “political election information and providing a website about political issues.”

Bush did rule that that the examples submitted for “educational and entertainment services and motivational speaking” were acceptable.

The file is still pending, and Palin and her attorney were given six months to respond. So far, according to a spokeswoman at the United States Patent and Trademark Office, if her attorney has responded, the letter has not been uploaded to the government website. Van Flein did not return calls or e-mails for this story.

Bristol Palin’s application has similar problems as her mother’s. It wasn’t signed and didn’t show her proposed trademark used in a commercial context. She must file examples that demonstrate how “Bristol Palin” is used in the actual sale or advertising of her “motivational speaking services in the field of life choices,” according to Bush’s letter to Van Flein.

Politicians seldom trademark their name but they might do so to prevent others from using it, for example, to sell shoddy, unapproved merchandise or “official” candidate memorabilia. A search for other political figures such as President Barack Obama and potential 2012 GOP presidential candidates Mike Huckabee, Tim Pawlenty and Mitt Romney do not show any pending trademark applications. It is a rarity, say trademark attorneys, for political figures to file such forms.

The Palins are facing a long road in the effort to trademark their names. “Generally one can trademark one’s name,” said Jeffrey S. Kravitz, a Los Angeles-based intellectual property attorney. “But, it is not easy.”

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Welcome, 2011: Sarah Palin and Julian Assange on the Radar Screen

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Ready or not, 2011 is here.

Consider some of these upcoming historic milestones as the new year arrives. 2011 marks the 150th anniversary of Jefferson Davis becoming president of the Confederacy, the 70th anniversary of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “Four Freedoms” speech (actually, his 1941 State of the Union address), the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s first presidential news conference — and the first ever to be broadcast live on television), and 25 years since the space shuttle Challenger disaster.

But 2011 will have its own special history, and here are some of the events that will help write it:

Sarah Palin’s presidential decision: Palin will have to decide this year whether to run for president. In order to compete in the 2012 primaries, she will have to soon start building a ground game in states like Iowa and New Hampshire. Sure, she has her reality television show, two books, and husband Todd may show up on the next “Dancing With the Stars,” but Palin must do much more than be a household name to win a crowded GOP primary.

Sarah Palin, Julian AssangeThe former Alaska governor accumulated a lot of favors in the midterm election by supporting winning candidates in key presidential states — such as Nikki Haley in South Carolina — via her Sarah PAC. But she has a lot of work to do on the popularity front. A recent poll by CNN/Opinion Research shows that Palin would offer the weakest challenge to President Obama among current top-tier GOP contenders.

Time is ticking for Palin to make a decision because there are . . .

GOP primary debates: Yes, they’re already in the works. The Reagan Presidential Foundation will kick off the election season by hosting a panel of GOP presidential candidates in the spring. Then there’s June 7, 2011: That’s the date of the first presidential debate in New Hampshire for the 2012 GOP primary. The candidate forum will be sponsored by the New Hampshire Union Leader, WMUR-TV, and CNN. Likely participants: Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney, outgoing Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour and South Dakota Sen. John Thune. Wild cards: Palin, Newt Gingrich, Jeb Bush.

Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding: The royal couple will tie the knot on Friday, April 29 at the thousand-year-old Westminster Abbey in London. The wedding may not draw as massive a crowd as gathered for Williams’ parents’ nuptials 30 years ago in St. Paul’s Cathedral, but the media will certainly provide massive coverage. Prime Minister David Cameron has already designated the date as a public holiday.

The event will require major security, the cost of which could top $8 million. British special forces will go undercover with Afghan war veterans from the Special Reconnaissance Regiment to watch for any potential attacks around Westminster Abbey. The wedding will also boost tourism — one company has launched a walking tour of locations that helped “define the next royal golden couple.” Also on tap: Kate is soon to be immortalized in wax by Madame Tussauds, and the royal couple will be featured on a British coin.

Julian Assange’s autobiography: No date has been set for the book’s release, which will be published sometime in 2011 by Alfred A. Knopf and Britain’s Cannongate. The WikiLeaks founder is fighting extradition from England to Sweden, where he faces questioning for alleged sex crimes. Assange has said he doesn’t want to write a book but must do so in order to cover his ballooning legal costs and to continue funding his whistleblower website, which has angered and embarrassed governments worldwide by releasing hundreds of thousands of confidential cables and other documents.

To capitalize on (and extend) Assange’s 15 minutes of fame, Knopf will likely have to publish the book sooner rather than later. Assange will also likely cash in on a movie adaption of the book, especially since his story seems to have all the components — mystery, intrigue and sex — that sell tickets.

The space shuttle retirement: In 2011, America’s space shuttle will blast into orbit for the final time. The last scheduled flight is in early April. NASA is retiring its shuttle fleet after 30 years of service to make way for future programs that will send astronauts to an asteroid by 2025 — part of Obama’s new space exploration initiative. The president cancelled NASA’s Constellation program, which was developing new vehicles to send astronauts back to the moon. The end of the shuttle means that the United States will soon have to hitch rides with the Russians to ferry astronauts to the International Space Station.

Last year, former astronaut (and senator) John Glenn condemned the cancellation of the shuttle program. In a statement, he lamented that “for the next five to ten years, the launches of U.S. astronauts into space will be viewed in classrooms and homes in America only through the courtesy of Russian TV. For the ‘world’s greatest spacefaring nation,’ this is hard to accept.”

Mike Huckabee: Serious Competition for Sarah Palin in 2012

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Sarah Palin may have met her political match in Mike Huckabee.

Both have been criss-crossing the country on book tours. Both hold degrees in communication. Both hunt and fish. Both use various media to hit their target audiences.

But while Palin often generates anger, Huckabee takes the Will Rogers road. He has an aw-shucks demeanor, freely cracking jokes, shaking hands and chatting with the media while Palin shuns reporters.

Already road-tested by a 2008 White House run, Huckabee, a former Arkansas governor and Baptist minister, may just be the strongest GOP candidate to take on Palin in a primary and President Barack Obama in a general election.

Huckabee, so far, ranks high in favorability polls.

A Quinnipac poll on Nov. 22 showed Huckabee in a statistical dead heat with Obama and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney.

In a Marist College poll on Nov. 24, Huckabee and Palin were virtually tied in popularity among Republicans who were not college graduates. But Huckabee pulled ahead significantly — 18 percent to Palin’s 9 percent — among respondents with college degrees. Huckabee came in second to Romney, who polled on top with 25 percent, among college-educated Republicans.
The high ratings mirror Huckabee’s numbers when he was governor. According to the yearly Arkansas Poll, Huckabee only dipped below 50 percent once from 1999 to 2006. In 2003, he hit a 47 percent approval rating, but the next year had 58 percent.

“He compares favorably to his leading competitors at the moment,” says Janine Parry, director of the Arkansas Poll at the University of Arkansas. “His unfavorable numbers are significantly lower, he’s penetrated the mainstream culture without becoming clownish, and he’s demonstrated a willingness – even eagerness – to be a practical, truly bipartisan leader. In this environment and in a general election at least, those seem like substantial assets.”

Huckabee’s career from Southern Baptist minister to politician is one of determination and ambition. The lesson for his opponents: He takes chances and he doesn’t give up easily.

From 1989 to 1991, Huckabee served as the youngest-ever elected president of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention. While well-known in church circles, Huckabee was a complete unknown in the political arena. But yet he took on a political legend, Sen. Dale Bumpers, for the U.S. Senate in 1992. He lost, but he received 40 percent of the vote.

In 1993, then-GOP State Chairman Asa Hutchinson urged Huckabee to run in a special election for lieutenant governor after Bill Clinton left the governor’s office to become president and Lt. Gov.Jim Guy Tucker became governor.

Huckabee ran against attorney Nate Coulter and won by a razor-thin margin. He ran a campaign against the state’s dominant Democratic establishment with the slogan, “Unplug the Machine.” In November 1994, he was re-elected to a four-year term.

While Huckabee planned another Senate run in 1996 for retiring Democratic Sen. David Pryor’s seat, his plans changed when Tucker resigned as governor after he got caught up in the Clinton Whitewater scandal and was convicted of fraud.

Huckabee faced a legislature with 89 Democrats out of 100 legislators in the House and only four Republicans in the 35-seat Senate. Yet, Huckabee found a way to govern.

“Huckabee’s great gift as governor was to be pretty ideologically in sync with a state that was conservative on social issues but believed in government,” says Jay Barth, a political science professor at Hendrix College in Conway, Ark. “He took moderate, pro-government stances that were in step with the state and even on social issues, he didn’t push much.”

 

Barth cautions that Huckabee’s moderate stances on children’s health care and allowing children of illegal immigrants to attend college may not sit well with tea party voters who align with Palin.

During his 2008 presidential run, Huckabee played well as a candidate. He won the Iowa caucuses and came in second in South Carolina. He stayed in the race although Republicans were urging him to concede the primary to Sen. John McCain.

If he chooses to run again, Huckabee can claim Southern and Baptist credentials in Dixie and play the populist card in Iowa and New Hampshire. In California recently, he signed books at the Reagan Library — a tip of the hat to “The Great Communicator.”

In 2007, Ed Rollins, a Republican consultant and a Reagan national campaign manager, said, “Governor Huckabee has probably inspired me as much as Ronald Reagan. He had an ability to connect with people and he was a great communicator. I’ve looked for a long time for another candidate to do that.”

Meanwhile, Palin chose to stay in the heartland and South during her book tour and appeared in Huckabee’s Arkansas.

Huckabee’s weakness during the 2008 campaign was lack of money — something that Palin certainly knows how to generate. But those who know him say Huckabee is a quick study.

“Huckabee always learns from his defeats, whether they are political defeats or legislative defeats,” says Rex Nelson, Huckabee’s communications director while in the governor’s office. “He lost his first political race to U.S. Sen. Dale Bumpers in 1992, adjusted and never lost another race in Arkansas. The 2008 race was one big learning experience for him since it was his first national race. If he seeks the nomination in 2012, he will be an even better candidate.”

Still, his Huck PAC has a lot less money than Palin’s or Romney’s. Huckabee had $194,578.01 on hand at the end of the last reporting period in November, compared to $1.2 million for Sarah PAC or $1 million for Romney’s Free and Strong America PAC.
But there are signs Huckabee is starting to shift gears.

In recent weeks, as Palin took her book to the Midwest and South and appeared in Huckabee’s Arkansas, Huckabee touted his book and became more vocal on current events, including WikiLeaks, tax cuts and health care. Earlier this year, Huckabee moved to Florida, a key presidential primary state, where he is building a $3 million beach house. He aligned himself last year with Sen.-elect Marco Rubio, a popular tea party candidate.

While Palin heads to Haiti this week and plans a trip to Israel next year, Huckabee has visited Israel more than 10 times as a pastor and a politician. He plans another trip in late January to Israel, similar to a trip he took earlier this year with Christian crooner Pat Boone. He is an ardent supporter of Israel and can talk at length about the problems it faces.

On his PAC’s website, Huckabee is trying to raise $15,000 by the end of the month. He has started to update his Facebook page and Twitter account more frequently. Social media is a tool Palin uses with great frequency to get out her message.

More than Romney or Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Barth sees Palin as Huckabee’s biggest obstacle in a Republican primary.

“She’s a fresher face than Huckabee,” Barth says. “She has really courted the tea party a little better than Huckabee. But if she doesn’t run, he is a strong, strong candidate for the nomination.”

Written by suziparker1313

March 8, 2011 at 10:55 pm

Mike Huckabee and 2012: Under the Radar, Over the Airwaves

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Mike Huckabee is a very busy man.

The former Arkansas governor hosts his weekly television show, Huckabee, on FOX News. He campaigns for candidates that he endorses through his Huck PAC. Last month, it was announced that Huckabee would lead fundraising efforts as chancellor of the new Victory University Foundation in Memphis. He’s reportedly recording an album in Nashville and writing a children’s Christmas book. He is already a successful author.

In July he launched “The Huckabee Show.” Airing as a pilot in a handful of cities, it is closer to “Dr. Phil” than “Meet the Press.” The show’s website calls Huckabee “a preacher who accepts all, a politician that never plays politics and a host unlike any other.”

Huckabee also leads tour groups on trips to Israel. He made one earlier this year with crooner Pat Boone during which he interviewed former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who was in the Middle East as part of his work as an envoy to the region. He will take another group to the Holy Land in January.

To Huckabee watchers, it appears that he is flying under the radar to build up his national following for a future campaign for the White House. But considering his many roles, is he too busy for a presidential run in 2012? Not according to longtime confidants, who think Huckabee will make another try despite his failed bid two years ago.

This week, Huckabee topped the pack of potential candidates in a 2012 caucus poll commissioned by TheIowaRepublican.com website. Huckabee garnered 22 percent to Mitt Romney’s 19 percent. Newt Gingrich received 14 percent, Sarah Palin 11 percent, Texas Rep. Ron Paul 5 percent, and Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and South Dakota Sen. John Thune 1 percent each.

“It feels a lot better than it did this time four years ago, when I was an asterisk there,” Huckabee told Politics Daily.

Huckabee’s showing doesn’t surprise political watchers in Iowa, the state that kicks off the 2012 political season. Huckabee won Iowa in 2008 with 34 percent of the vote to Romney’s 25 percent. But Huckabee failed to repeat his success in the string of primary states that followed.

“He had the grassroots organization,” said Tim Hagel, associate professor of political science at the University of Iowa. “He came in, did not have a national name, did not have the funds, but he did the exact correct thing you have to do in Iowa with the grassroots. He got volunteers talking to other volunteers. He had coffees. That’s what gets people out on a caucus night.”

In his first run for president, Huckabee made inroads in Iowa soon after the 2004 election. As Arkansas governor, he traveled there several times, a move Pawlenty is now mirroring. Of late, Huckabee hasn’t visited the state, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t planning a 2012 run.

In the age of social media, Huckabee and other potential presidential candidates don’t have to practically live in a state to keep their names out front. But the Huckabee brand doesn’t rely solely on Facebook and Twitter. “I spend about five nights a week, sometimes six in hotels and I’m often on planes four and five days a week,” he said. In addition to his television endeavors, he also hosts a radio segment, “The Huckabee Report,” on the Citadel Broadcast Network, which is beamed to almost 600 stations across the country.

“Shows are going great,” he said in an e-mail. “Doing a six-week preview for possible syndication in broadcast next year as well as the weekend show. Dream guests would include Keith Richards, Clint Eastwood, Meryl Streep, and Dustin Hoffman. I’ve had many of my dream guests including Robert Duvall.” He recently hosted movie star Raquel Welch and rocker Meat Loaf on his weekend show.

With so many irons in the fire, would Huckabee give up his growing media empire for politics? Hagel thinks he could have it both ways, short of a presidential bid.

“He has a pretty good gig,” Hagel says. “In some sense, he could have his television show and be kind of a player in politics, doing appearances and the endorsement route.”

This week, Huckabee announced 11 endorsements in Iowa.

He began his career as a Southern Baptist preacher, but also mixed in media. When he led congregations at churches in two Arkansas cities, he hosted a program called “Positive Alternatives.”

Huckabee has always used media wisely to get out his message. On his Huck PAC website this week, he weighed in against the proposed mosque near Ground Zero: “The President and other supporters of this incredibly insensitive idea should do no less than listen to the families and loved ones of the three thousand murdered victims — and at least consider whether there isn’t a compromise that can be reached,” he wrote.

Huckabee doesn’t always align with the GOP, especially on immigration issues. He has not joined the conservative bandwagon to change the 14th Amendment to prohibit automatic citizenship for children of illegal immigrants.

As Arkansas’ governor from 1996 to 2007, Huckabee was an ardent supporter of the state’s Hispanic community. The state hosted the national League of United Latin American Citizens convention while Huckabee was in office. He supported legislation that would have allowed college aid for high school graduates who entered the United States illegally. The legislation didn’t pass. Huckabee also helped the state gain a Mexican consulate while he was governor.

Huckabee told Politics Daily that the three most important issues currently facing the United States are the economy and jobs, the change to big government socialism, and the threat of radical Islam.

If Huckabee does dip back into political waters, his opponents would surely attack him on his decisions as governor to grant clemencies and pardons.

He commuted and accepted recommendations for pardon for twice as many prisoners — more than 1,000 — than his three predecessors. He commuted the sentence of Maurice Clemmons, who had committed burglary with a weapon, in order for Clemmons to receive parole. He was released in 2000 but continued on a crime spree. In November 2009, Clemmons was sought in connection with the murder of four police officers in Lakewood, Wash. He was killed during a manhunt.

Earlier this year, Huckabee shocked his home state when he relocated his official residence from Arkansas to Florida, a key state on the path to the presidency. At the time Huckabee told me, “We are keeping our house in Arkansas, but splitting our time between Arkansas, New York and Florida. Some of my business endeavors make the Florida residency more convenient for now.”

In June, the Republican Party of Arkansas hosted its annual dinner. The night honored the only three Republican governors in Arkansas since Reconstruction. Two are deceased. Huckabee was a no-show. While no Republican wanted to go on the record to whine about Huckabee’s absence, several said his nonappearance likely meant he wasn’t considering another White House run.

Others are not so quick to dismiss a Huckabee candidacy. But don’t expect a replay of his 2008 bid.

Rex Nelson, who was Huckabee’s communications director while in the governor’s office, said that Huckabee will likely run only if he has more commitments from key Republican fundraisers.

“He ran his last campaign on a shoestring and was still near the top,” said Nelson, now a Little Rock-based public relations consultant who writes a blog called “Southern Fried.” “I just don’t think he would run on a shoestring again in 2012. He would make a tremendous nominee. And polls show he is highly popular among Republican primary voters. But some of the so-called whales from the GOP fundraising establishment are going to have to get on board this time. If their strongest potential Republican nominee sits on the sideline, they will have only themselves to blame.”

Written by suziparker1313

March 7, 2011 at 5:49 pm