An LA entertainment company has accused Barack and Michelle Obama of ‘deplorable behavior’ after the former President and First Lady filed a ‘meritless’ petition in a trademark dispute over the name of their company, Higher Ground Productions.
The Obamas’ legal team filed to cancel the trademark of the e-book publishing company, called Higher Ground Enterprises, after the US trademark office rejected their application earlier this year.
Barack and Michelle set up Higher Ground Productions and scored a lucrative deal with Netflix last year.
The name alludes to Michelle’s famous speech from the 2016 Democratic National Convention, when she told the world ‘our motto is, when they go low, we go high’.
But they have since come into trouble over the company’s name. After their initial trademark was rejected, they asked the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office to cancel the registration of Higher Ground Enterprises, run by Hanisya Massey since 2008.
Massey’s lawyer says her company specialize in helping writers of e-books to get published.
Her lawyer told the Hollywood Reporter: ‘This is really deplorable behavior. I hope that the Obamas realize that these actions are not consistent with the values they preach and that they instruct their attorneys to immediately dismiss the petition’.
‘Obamas have known for almost a year that their Higher Ground Productions trademark application was rejected by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office because it was too similar to his client’s Higher Ground Enterprises.
‘Instead of simply picking another name, the Obamas’ lawyers have now filed a meritless petition to cancel my client’s trademark so they can take it for themselves’ he added.
Zerner added his client’s motive is ‘not political’ but they want to keep their name to avoid confusion.
Higher Ground was launched by the Obama with the aim of producing a diverse mix of content, which is set to include a docuseries, scripted series as well as documentaries.
So far, they’ve announced seven projects aimed to ‘educated, connect and inspire’.
Their lawyers have argued that their production company should be able to co-exist as it won’t be mistaken for the e-publishing company.
‘Applicant has entered a deal with Netflix in connection with its media production services. Such customers, whether multi-billion-dollar media companies or smaller commercial entities in need of media production services, will exercise the height of care in selecting a media production company and are highly unlikely to be confused by a photographer or e-book publisher — particularly when the other party uses a distinguishable mark’ their Trademark application said.
The couple are both fans of Stevie Wonder, who had a number one hit with ‘Higher Ground’ in 1973.
SOURCE: Daily Mail, Bridie Pearson-Jones