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Judge issues ban on Hershey campaign signs

The Hershey Co.

A federal judge issued a temporary ban last week on a state senator's campaign materials that chocolate-maker Hershey says infringe on its copyright — and ordered the design be stripped from the Internet and roadsides by Tuesday.

The company sued the Eastern Shore's Sen. Stephen S. Hershey, Jr., whose brown signs with white block lettering dotted his district during primary season, saying the case was just the latest in a series of fights between the two dating back to 2002.

The senator's lawyers argued that the case was pointless.

"The Hershey Company contends that voters and consumers will be confused by Senator Hershey's campaign signs," the attorneys wrote. "This contention borders on absurdity. No one is confused. Consumers and voters alike know the difference between a state senate campaign and a chocolate bar."

But U.S. District Judge William D. Quarles sided with the chocolate company.

"On the basis of the substantially similar campaign design, a member of the public could easily — and mistakenly — believe that Senator Hershey is in some way affiliated with Hershey," Quarles wrote.

The ban will remain in place while the case is fought to a conclusion. It was not clear Tuesday whether Hershey had met the order's deadline, but his campaign website appeared to have been taken down.

iduncan@baltsun.com

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