The Washington Post

Hershey sues Md. State Sen. Stephen Hershey over chocolate-hued logo

Candy bar or campaign sign? (U.S. District Court)

The Hershey Co. has sued Maryland State Sen. Stephen Hershey to stop him from using a campaign sign that the candy-maker says is reminiscent of its signature chocolate bars, according to the Baltimore Sun.

Sen. Hershey’s campaign signs use his name against a chocolate background and a dual-toned imprint of the Maryland flag.

There’s no mistaking the similar hues of the chocolate bar and signs in question, and in its complaint, filed in District Court in Maryland last week, the company says that Hershey is using the company’s “trade dress” in a way that could be misleading.

“Hershey is bringing this action to stop Senator Steve Hershey and his campaign from using the famous trade dress of the Hershey’s chocolate bar in connection with Senator Hershey’s campaign activities,” the company wrote in a complaint, the Sun reported.

The chocolate company, no stranger to defending its brands in court, also sued an edible marijuana company in Colorado for a similar offense.

Sen. Hershey has tried — and apparently failed — in the past to appease the Hershey Co. lawyers. During a 2010 campaign, the lawmaker from Queen Anne’s County used a logo even more reminiscent of the candy wrapper; he changed it, after complaints from the Hershey Co. lawyers.

(US District Court, June 9, 2012)
In 2010, Hershey the politician received complaints from Hershey the company about this sign. (U.S. District Court)

In a letter to the Hershey Co. earlier this year, Sen. Hershey, a Republican, wrote that his new campaign slogan is in a generic font that’s dissimilar to the one found on Hershey bar wrappers — and, he added, it utilizes the Maryland state flag in a way that sets it apart from the classic chocolate bar.

“I feel strongly that this new design logo which uses my surname in a common font while tying in a Maryland flag scheme is a fair compromise to the concerns that The Hershey Company has regarding its dress trade and trademark,” Hershey wrote.

The company disagreed.

“It is apparent that the overall resulting design is a confusingly similar knockoff of, and unlawful colorable imitation of, the famous and iconic Hershey Trade Dress,” the company claimed in the filing, according to the Sun.

Abby Phillip is a national political reporter for the Washington Post. She can be reached at On Twitter: @abbydphillip

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