Chocolate Ron Paul coins may violate official Ron Paul Liberty Dollar gold coins
Amir, a brilliant young MIT student, has produced chocolate Ron Paul coins to spread the word and get our man elected. He is currently selling them at cost. However, he is using the likeness of Bernard von NotHaus' existing gold and silver Ron Paul Liberty Dollar coins to help sell the chocolate ones. Bernard's website states "All Rights Reserved". This is a problem.
RE: Ron Paul Liberty Dollar Chocolates http://ronpaulchocolate.com/
I am interested, amused and concerned... If you intend to use my
copyrighted designs and/or the trademark: LIBERTY DOLLAR, please
contact me immediately. If you are going to do this... it must be
done right... with permission.
Bernard von NotHaus
Here's what's happening. Amir is using the phrase "Liberty Dollar". This phrase may be trademarked by Bernard. If it is, and Bernard has done due diligence in protecting that trademark in the past, then this is a necessary step in retaining the trademark. Trademark and copyright are 2 different things. I'm not sure you could copyright "Liberty Dollar", however.
As for the design on the coin. You can't copyright the likeness of a public figure. That's based on precedent. However, you can copyright a specific design or logo. In this case, the design on the website for the chocolate coins is the same as the design on Bernard's Liberty Dollars. If Bernard has a copyright on that design, then yes, Amir is in clear violation in using Bernard's work to promote his own. However, I don't know what copyrights and trademarks Bernard has secured. Nor do I know how similar the 2 designs are when you compare what's actually printed on the chocolate foil. I do know that Amir is using the exact digital images of Bernard's Ron Paul Liberty Dollar on his own website in promotion of the chocolate coins. Because this is a non-profit enterprise, that changes things a bit. However, a non-profit entity still can't violate copyright.
One Man's Struggle
Amir is not selling these coins as part of an official non-profit enterprise. Like the rest of us, he's an enterprising young man doing what it takes to help get his candidate elected. He is doubtless putting in many hours of his own time with no compensation. Nevertheless, he did not initially secure Bernard's permission. He's currently doing so. Let's hope Bernard allows this in kind faith.
The original website that sells the gold and silver coins is at Liberty Dollar.org. Here's a copy of the site: