Barack and Michelle Obama face off with small business owner over trademark dispute

Barack and Michelle Obama have long been put on a pedestal by their liberal fans. That image has begun to crumble, however.

The Obamas’ latest issue stems from a trademark dispute with a small California business. The owner is accusing the Obamas of trying to erase her trademark, one she has held since before Obama left office, according to The New York Times.

Ongoing Dispute

Hanisya Massey says she started her company, Higher Ground Enterprises, a computer training company, over a decade ago. After the Obamas left office they started their entertainment company, Higher Ground Productions.

The similarity of the names has created problems, which led to the trademark dispute.

The Obamas were unable to trademark their name outright, and began negotiations to procure the coveted rights to the name with several other companies that held similar names.

Unfortunately for the Obamas, the negotiations crumbled when Massey’s “significant demands” derailed the discussion.

Massey’s requests included a small part in a production. Not a starring role, but a bit part. Those requests were denied and that led to a legal battle.

Erasing Trademark Rights

With no deal, the lawyers went to work. A case that there was no public evidence for Massey’s trademark was brought to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Obama’s lawyers claimed that there would be nothing hindering Massey’s business if they were to take the name.

Massey pointed out that in an online world, her business would be nearly invisible next to something as high profile as the Obamas’ entertainment company. She was adamant about this, insisting, “It could definitely hurt my business severely. Because if you Google this, this is the only thing that comes up. And I am pretty much a little needle in the haystack at this point.”

The issue may not be resolved until 2021 as Trademark and Patent disputes are tricky to deal with.

Hopefully though, the small business owner will be protected. It would be wrong to let high profile individuals with endless resources like the Obamas run roughshod over a small business that was using the name first.

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