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A blind army veteran is at the center of a burgeoning legal fight between the Seattle Seahawks and his wife’s campaign for U.S. Senate.
The Seattle Seahawks issued a cease-and-desist letter to Washington state Republican Senate candidate Tiffany Smiley, over the inclusion of what looks like a team jersey in one of her ads. But the Seahawks previously honored Smiley’s husband, former U.S. Army Major Scotty Smiley, for his service. The decision is part of a larger legal battle that appears to be brewing between the Tiffany Smiley campaign and several Seattle institutions.
“It has been brought to our attention that the Smiley for Washington campaign is making commercial use of trademarks and/or copyrights belonging to [the Seahawks] in connection with its “Game Day” television ad,” the team wrote in its letter to the Smiley campaign.
“Absent an agreement with the National Football League (“NFL”) or the Seahawks, third parties are prohibited from using Seahawks Trademarks in any manner that may suggest that it is in any way endorsed by, or otherwise affiliated with, the NFL or the Seahawks. Given that the Smiley for Washington campaign has no such agreement with the NFL or the Seahawks, we must ask that it immediately cease its unauthorized commercial use of Seahawks Trademarks… It is our hope to resolve this matter quickly and amicably.”
In the ad, Smiley is discussing the impact of inflation on her family’s grocery bills on football Sundays. The ad cuts to her husband for less than two seconds; in the original cut of the ad, he could be seen wearing a dark blue jersey with neon green stripes and what looks like an NFL shield. But it is not immediately clear that the jersey is a Seahawks jersey. The Smiley campaign published an updated version of the ad in which all distinct markings are removed, and Scotty Smiley is wearing a plain blue jersey.
Seattle-based radio talk show host Ari Hoffman called out the Seahawks over the move, pointing out that in 2014, the team honored him as part of their “Salute to Service” initiative. “Hey @Seahawks. You guys honored Scott Smiley in 2014,” Hoffman tweeted. “Now you’re mad about him wearing a Seahawks jersey in a campaign ad because his wife is running as a Republican for Senate. How about you guys focus on football instead of politics? You got enough trouble winning these days.”