During the 2000 student-body elections, Natalie Copeland and Sammy Kalmowicz called their campaign “Priceless,” the same name MasterCard gave its popular campaign.
In 2001, Anthony Brooks and Shawna Mulford chalked the sidewalks with their signature “Voters Wanted” symbol, which looked a lot like the VW symbol on a Volkswagen.
A few questions arose both times about whether either ticket had infringed on copyright laws. Whatever the findings, solicitation of voters continued with neither ticket being disqualified.
In fact, their not-so-original campaign mechanisms clinched each ticket a spot in the Student Government elections runoffs. But that’s as far as they went.
Maybe it’s a curse. Maybe corporate America — or even public universities — doesn’t appreciate its likeness being duplicated for personal political gain on any level. When people start talking bad about your slogan, your logo, your branding brainchild, it’s bad news, man, bad news.
Maybe Michael Mincberg and Christi Clements are out to break the curse. The Student Government Elections Rules Commission ruled that Mincberg and Clements’ ticket’s logo looked too much like SG’s logo, infringing on the trademark.
After the ERC notified Mincberg and Clements of the “violation,” Mincberg and Clements took down their signs, but Mincberg said they put them back up after deciding there wasn’t a thing wrong with them in the first place.
Was this a blatant violation of the law on the part of two people who want my vote? The ERC thinks so, and the SG supreme court has backed the decision to disqualify Mincberg and Clements from the race. But true to Florida elections — and USF is no exception — it ain’t over until the inauguration ceremony has ended.
Mincberg said in a recent Oracle interview, “In the United States of America, you are innocent until proven guilty, especially when it’s something as controversial as a trademark.”
I guess in hindsight, two guilty verdicts don’t mean you’re guilty. Mincberg plans to appeal his case to the Board of Trustees. Until all this happened, it seemed to me that we had student courts to settle student problems, i.e. alleged SG elections violations. Then again, in any legal proceeding, as long as there’s a power higher than the one handing down a decision, there’s always the chance for appeal.
I thought the signage war had ended following the 2002 and 2003 elections, which, of course, had their own problems. In 2002, Michael’s older brother, Dave Mincberg, won a second term as student body vice president with Mike Griffin as president. It was hard for anyone to compete against this incumbent ticket considering the political savvy of Griffin, who I jokingly referred to as “Little Jeb.” Hopefully, he will appreciate the “compliment.”
The 2003 student body elections had about as many twists and turns as the 2000 presidential election with George W. Bush and Al Gore. I think USF administrators and Student Government advisers would like to forget the ’03 elections and just pretend that Omar Khan and Ryan Morris won fair and square.
Along comes baby brother Mincberg and Clements with their “score in 2004” attitude. And fueling their adrenaline rush is a fascinating legal team. Sure, it may officially be one person, Tampa attorney John M. Guard, but how often does an undergraduate student on this campus get to use the phrase, “Let me consult with my attorney?”
I’ve never met Michael Mincberg, though I’m sure he’s a fine young man. During Oracle coverage of Dave Mincberg the first time he and Griffin won, I got to know Elliot Mincberg, the well-respected Washington D.C. attorney Dave and Michael call “Dad.” I’m sure Papa Mincberg’s legal expertise bodes well for Michael and Christi.
My father owns a lawn service business. I suppose if I contracted a lawn maintenance crew that didn’t satisfy me, I’d call on my dad to help me settle the score.
Kevin Graham is a former Oracle Editor in Chief. firstname.lastname@example.org