A Maryland state senator thought he’d use his last name for some sweet campaign advertising, but has now ended up in an ooey-gooey melted mess with one of the nation’s leading candy makers.
Stephen S. Hershey Jr., a state senator from Queen Anne’s County on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, made campaign signs for his re-election bid that mimic the branding of the famed Hershey chocolate bar, featuring similar block lettering on top of a chocolate brown backdrop.
The Pennsylvania-based Hershey Company argues the politician’s advertising too closely resembles its own logo.
“Hershey is bringing this action to stop Senator Steve Hershey and his campaign from using the famous trade dress of the Hershey’s chocolate bar in connection with Senator Hershey’s campaign activities,” the company wrote in a complaint.
Hershey, a former delegate who was appointed to the Senate last year to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Sen. E. J. Pipkin, said in a statement he was confident the court would rule in his favor.
“The Hershey Company’s allegations raise serious questions about infringing on my constitutional rights of freedom of speech, freedom of association, and participation as a candidate in the political process,” he added.
The company alleges Hershey’s use of the logo will confuse people and lead them to believe it supports the senator’s campaign. It also argues the senator had gone back on a previous agreement over the campaign materials.
“Hershey has tried to resolve this matter outside of court and Senator Hershey even promised that he would cease use of the Hershey’s trade dress, yet Sen. Hershey continues to use the famous Hershey’s trade dress to promote his campaign,” the company’s lawyer wrote.