Gansler Campaign and Montgomery County Teachers Union Settle Apple Ballot Dispute
The Montgomery County Education Association sued Doug Gansler’s campaign after the union claimed the campaign violated its Apple Ballot trademark
Picture: On the left is the MCEA Apple Ballot, on the right is what MCEA says the Gansler campaign is distributing. Photo courtesy of MCEA.
Apparently you can trademark an apple—at least ballot-shaped one.
The Montgomery County Education Association announced Thursday it settled a lawsuit filed against former gubernatorial candidate Doug Gansler’s campaign for using literature on Primary Election Day that resembled its trademarked Apple Ballot, which the group uses to endorse candidates.
The flap began when MCEA representatives saw people affiliated with Gansler’s campaign handing out a flier that resembled MCEA’s ballot at polling locations June 24.
Gansler’s flier listed his name and other local officials and stated that they were “supported by teachers across Montgomery County,” even though MCEA endorsed Gansler’s primary opponent Anthony Brown in the race.
That day, MCEA filed an injunction to stop Gansler’s campaign from distributing the literature. Gansler said in response, according to The Washington Post, “They have a trademark on apples? They don’t.”
In this case, they do, according to an account of the settlement from MCEA. The settlement acknowledges that MCEA did register the Apple Ballot with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and that the campaign cannot challenge its validity or MCEA’s ownership of the trademark.
“MCEA’s Apple Ballot is a known, trusted and trademarked brand,” MCEA Executive Director Tom Israel said in a statement. “Today’s settlement reaffirms that the Apple Ballot will remain a valuable source of information for voters seeking candidates who are advocates for high-quality public education.”
MCEA represents more than 12,000 teachers, guidance counselors, and other school system educators in the county.