Etch-a-Sketch: Romney campaign faces possible lawsuit

Already under threat from the company that manufactures Etch-A-Sketch for product defamation, the Mitt Romney campaign committee is now facing a possible lawsuit for copyright infringement from The Church of the SubGenius, a Cleveland-based religious organization whose trademarked figurehead is Bob Dobbs, a caricature of a prototypical American super salesman that first appeared as clip art in the 1950s.

"The Church of the SubGenius rarely brings legal action to enforce its ownership of our savior, Bob Dobbs', image, but in the case of Mitt Romney, we believe that the candidate has gone a bridge too far in appropriating the Bob Dobbs personality and stylistic attributes," said church spokesperson and co-founder Ivan Stang late yesterday. "We have, therefore, asked our legal counsel to send the Romney campaign a letter asking that the candidate cease-and-desist in his misuse of our trademarked image.

"Failure to do so," Stang went on, "could result in legal action seeking significant damages not only for the misuse but also degradation of the Bob Dobbs brand by Mr. Romney and his campaign."

The biggest concern, said Stang, is that what he termed "Mitt Romney's degrading impersonation of Bob Dobbs," would "undermine the credibility of the Church of the SubGenius."

The Romney campaign responded earlier today with a denial that the Presidential candidate has based his personal image on Bob Dobbs. Questioned by reporters at a campaign appearance in Ohio, the candidate said, "Bob Dobbs? Gosh, no! My political persona is fashioned after Richard Nixon without the funny hairline or the guilty conscience that made him squirm a little whenever he told a lie.

"Besides, I'm a Mormon and everybody knows Mormons don't smoke -- not even pipes," Romney said.

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Rich Broderick's picture
Rich Broderick

Rich Broderick (email richb [at] lakecast [dot] com lives in St. Paul and teaches journalism at Anoka-Ramsey Community College. Rich is a writer, poet, and social activist.