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MoveOn Allowed to Keep Controversial Billboard

MoveOn.org defeated a civil action brought by Lieutenant Governor Jay Dardenne to force MoveOn to take down a billboard that parodies the State’s tourism marketing campaign, “Louisiana, Pick Your Passion” in presenting a message critical of Governor Jindal’s decision not to accept federal Medicaid expansion dollars.  The billboard was put up on March 4 along the I-10 near Baton Rouge.  The Lt. Governor sought a preliminary injunction against MoveOn ordering removal of the billboard, alleging trademark infringement and irreparable harm to the State’s marketing campaign.

On April 7, Judge Shelly Dick of the United States District Court, Middle District of Louisiana, denied the preliminary injunction, finding that (1) the State did not demonstrate a substantial likelihood of prevailing on its burden of proving a likelihood that viewers of the billboard will think that its message is sponsored by the Department of Tourism or any other State agency or official; (2) the State failed to demonstrate a compelling reason to curtail MoveOn’s political speech in favor of protecting the State’s service mark; and (3) the State failed to demonstrate it is suffering irreparable injury as a result of the billboard. 

Steve Bullock and Matt Almon of Stone Pigman worked with members of Washington, D.C. firm of Sandler Reiff Young & Lamb PC to defeat the State’s claims.  The Stone Pigman team played a major role in formulating legal strategy, in developing the evidence, including deposing the State’s expert witness, and in researching and briefing the preliminary injunction issues.  Dardenne v. MoveOn.org Civil Action, 3:14-cv-00150, in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana.

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