Starwood Hotels and Resorts has fired off legal letters to political merchandisers, demanding that they remove the “W” from Bush memorabilia that they’re selling such as W hats, W t-shirts, and other such apparel. They claim such memorabilia erods the brand value of its W hotels.
Eugene Volokh has been on a roll outlining the legal issues surrounding trademark and copyright (such as here on the use of corporate logos in film and here on copyright and forwarding messages from email lists). I’ll be interested to see if he’ll comment on this issue.
I imagine they’d have a case if merchandisers simply appropriated the same “W” graphic used by W hotels and argued that it ‘really’ applied to Bush. But as long as the W is different (how different?) Bush partisans must be able to buy W t-shirts. But I’m not a lawyer.