PHOENIX — The city of Phoenix has threatened to take legal action against presidential nominee Donald Trump over a campaign TV ad featuring Phoenix police officers.
The city issued a cease-and-desist letter to the Republican on Thursday, citing the violation of “federal and state law by using copyrighted materials in a campaign advertisement.”
Uniformed officers shake hands with Trump in the ad, which aired Sept. 20. The two-page cease-and-desist demand signed by City Attorney Brad Holm stated, in part:
First, Phoenix has not approved — and will not approve — the creation use of any media bearing the faces and likenesses of its on-duty police officers in any political advertisement for any political candidate.
The officers were unaware that they were photographed and videotaped, and they did not consent to the use of their on-duty images in any Trump (or other) campaign advertisement. The officers depicted in the ad were in uniform precisely because they were on duty performing work for Phoenix at the time.
The letter added the police department uniforms were legally protected intellectual property, chief among that the badge and insignia patch.
Holm finished the letter pointing out the city manager had authorized pursuit of “all legal remedies necessary to stop the Trump campaign” from using the city’s intellectual property.
Phoenix mayor Greg Stanton talked to 12 News and explained the city logo or on duty employees can’t be used in any kind of political advertising.
KTAR legal analyst Monica Lindstrom said the letter was “a first step letting someone know they need to stop doing something and if they do not, there could be additional legal ramifications down the road.”
Cease-and-desist letters aren’t unusual to political campaigns or advertisements.
“Usually it’s the candidate using a song of somebody else and not asking that person for permission,” Lindstrom said.
“It’s all about the perception. Will the public perceive that person who owns that song or that uniform or that picture, would they believe that they’re endorsing this candidate and that is what gets people upset.”