San Francisco (January 21, 2010) – Morrison & Foerster yesterday secured a victory for equal rights organization Courage Campaign Institute in a trademark infringement case brought on by anti-gay-marriage group ProtectMarriage.com. Judge Lawrence K. Karlton of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California issued an order denying the plaintiff’s motion for a temporary restraining order (“TRO”) that was sought to prohibit Courage Campaign from using a logo that the order states is “protected under the First Amendment, in that the use is relevant to an expressive parody and the use is not explicitly misleading.”
On January 11, 2010, the historic trial concerning the constitutionality of Proposition 8 banning same-sex marriage in California began in federal district court in San Francisco. The same day Courage Campaign launched the website http://prop8trialtracker.com/, dedicated to live coverage of the trial. The site logo features silhouettes of two women and two children, which Courage Campaign admittedly derived from ProtectMarriage.com’s logo that depicts a heterosexual family.
On January 19, ProtectMarriage.com filed a complaint alleging trademark infringement and requested a TRO, to which Courage Campaign filed an opposition, stating that the logo is an “obvious parody” and the plaintiff is not entitled to a TRO, as there is “no urgency or risk of irreparable harm.” Judge Karlton agreed and denied the motion.
“The Courage Campaign Institute will continue to focus our energy on this historic trial and the rights and protections at stake for loving, committed same-sex couples,” said Rick Jacobs, chair of the Courage Campaign Institute. “ProtectMarriage.com can continue to expend time, energy, and resources on a logo. Frankly, I think that says a lot about our respective priorities.”
The Morrison & Foerster team representing Courage Campaign includes Partners Douglas Hendricks and Jennifer Lee Taylor, along with Associates Nathan Sabri, Cathleen Stadecker, and Julia Kripke. The firm handled this case pro bono.