Senate Candidate Lifts UO’s Look For Campaign?

Political campaigns have borrowed many things from the sports world, whether they’re using annoying team-related analogies or sending their candidates out for a (hopefully) athletic-looking photo op. But stealing the typeface of a college athletic program has to be a new one on us.

John Kerry hikes football

Gordon Smith is running for the United States Senate in Oregon this November, and may not have an athletic bone in his body. But that hasn’t stopped him from apparently lifting the look of Univ. of Oregon athletics for his upcoming Senatorial election campaign.

Here is the typeface and imagery for Smith’s campaign (thanks to Kari Chisholm at BLUE OREGON.COM):

gordon smith oregon typeface ripoff

And here’s the banner from the Oregon University athletics website:

oregon ducks website banner

What do you have to say for that, Smith campaign? From THE OREGONIAN:

“We chose the font because it’s a clean, bold font and we’re a clean, bold winning team,” Smith spokeswoman Lindsay Gilbride said.

The font is not identical to Oregon’s, Gilbride said, but she wouldn’t say whether Smith chose it for its similarity.

Of course they wouldn’t say. Politicians never admit to stealing anything, even after they get caught.

Unfortunately, any action that the university could take would be extremely limited:

Matt Dyste, Oregon’s director of brand management, seemed neither flattered nor flummoxed by the campaign’s choice. He noted the similarity in Smith’s lettering to Oregon’s typeface but said it “probably isn’t” an issue for the university.

Michael M. Ratoza, intellectual property lawyer for Bullivant Houser Bailey and an adjunct law professor at UO, agreed, saying, “Fonts and typefaces in this country have never been copyrightable.”

That may not stop the university, or Nike, the apparel company that contributes so generously to the school’s athletic fund, from taking action, even if it means sending a check over to the other guy. Smith’s lack of support for higher education adds a nice slice of irony to all of this. I guess he figures it won’t be long before he can start ripping off people in Washington.