Professor Jeremy Sheff was recently quoted in Yahoo! Finance on the ways in which today's increasingly divisive politics are affecting the intellectual property strategies of national brand owners. Professor Sheff has written about similar phenomena in his 2011 article in the NYU Journal of Intellectual Property and Entertainment Law, Brand Renegades. In From Tiki to Tic Tac, Trump era forces consumer brands into politics, Senior Writer Daniel Roberts quotes Professor Sheff on the reaction of the makers of TIKI brand lawn torches to the use of their products at a recent white-supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia:
In the era of President Trump, consumer products like Tic Tac, Skittles, and Dippin’ Dots, brands that are usually innocuous and almost never need to get political in any way, are being forced to publicly take sides when they find their brand used in a political context.
...These decisions also boil down to protecting your intellectual property ... “If you sell consumer products, you don’t want to be seen as hostile to any of your consumers,” says Sheff. “But you’ve got to choose now. And many brands don’t want to choose. Then it becomes: Which customer base is bigger, or richer, and are you willing to alienate a profitable line of business in order to stand for something that goes beyond revenues, such as, oh, say, resistance to Nazism.”