Boebert Watch: Intellectual Property and Some Dumb Moves

No, Lauren Boebert isn't sticking her tongue out at the federal  government. Not really.
No, Lauren Boebert isn't sticking her tongue out at the federal government. Not really. YouTube
Representative Lauren Boebert is a lot of things. She’s a mom of four, married to a fella who only exposed himself to minors at a bowling alley that one time. She’s a failed internet model turned small business owner, running a restaurant known more for its defiant political positions — and its merch! — than its food. She’s also a gun fetishist, a Q-Anon sympathizer, a Trump worshipper and the U.S. House representative from Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District.

What she’s not is a trademark and copyright attorney. Or, apparently, good with things like details and deadlines.

This past week, Boebert sent a cease-and-desist letter to Toby Morton, a TV comedy writer (South Park and MadTV) and online activist responsible for the parody site, which both pokes fun and points a serious finger at Boebert’s scattershot record of general unqualified-for-public-service behavior and perhaps a greater role in the insurrection of January 6 than she now wants to admit.

Boebert’s cease-and-desist to Morton seeks to enforce copyright on Boebert photographs used on his website, despite the fact that they are public-domain photos made available by the U.S. government. The demand was an email, according to Rural Colorado United, rather than an actual letter, and it came from Boebert rather than an actual attorney, even though there appear to be plenty of legal experts willing to risk bar expulsion by lying for Donald Trump and his supporters in blatant and ridiculous fashion.

While researching Boebert's latest legal snafu, George Autobee and his RCU colleagues decided to take advantage of some congressional oversight. “A few months ago, while doing some research into @LaurenBoebert's seven LLCs (which we suspect are used for both tax avoidance and money laundering), we noticed that she had failed to renew the rights to her logo for Shooters Grill at both the state and federal level,” RCU says in the first of a series of tweets. “So we took the opportunity to claim the rights and register it as ours.”

That’s right: The Shooters Grill logo emblazoned on the T-shirts and trucker caps and (we assume) gun holsters? You know, the real source of revenue for Boebert’s Rifle restaurant? (Pandering to irrational anger and fear is so much more lucrative than flapjacks.) That logo is now owned by RCU. And the organization is auctioning it off to the highest bidder.

“There are a lot of people out there more clever than us,” RCU’s tweet-series notes, “and we sure don't want to let this opportunity go to waste.” So it put the logo up for auction on OpenSea, selling the NFT for the winning purchaser to use in any way they so choose — and putting Shooters Grill in a precarious position if it continues to sell any merchandise with that logo.

But couldn’t Shooters Grill just go online and buy back the rights to the logo? Sure, and help support Rural Colorado United in the process. All proceeds from the sale “will go directly to funding our work changing Republican minds about their Representative, and organizing all 29 counties across CD3 to flip this district in '22,” according to RCU. That's irony more delicious than a Trump steak and eggs special at Shooters.

How did Boebert let the trademark lapse in the first place? Maybe she was too busy serving her constituents in CD3 — performing high-minded public service work like bringing a “space blanket” to President Joe Biden’s speech before Congress last week and unfolding it purposefully and noisily during the proceedings while snapping her gum like a petulant eighth-grader at a school assembly. That's the sort of political theater she doubtless learned from the likes of Representative Matt Gaetz, who famously wore a gas mask during the early days of the pandemic, back when the GOP line was to deny that it was a serious issue. That was also back when we only knew Gaetz as an insufferable boob; now, he’s facing serious repercussions for the sexual abuse of minors. But at least Gaetz and Boebert’s husband now have something in common to talk about over drinks at the next CPAC.

If you’re in the market for a Shooters Grill logo — however you’d like to use it! — the auction runs through May 14. Place your bid, and if you win, you might one day be able to send Representative Boebert a cease-and-desist of your own! But, you know...a real one.
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Teague Bohlen is a writer, novelist and professor at the University of Colorado Denver. His first novel, The Pull of the Earth, won the Colorado Book Award for Literary Fiction in 2007; his textbook The Snarktastic Guide to College Success came out in 2014. His new collection of flash fiction, Flatland, is available now.
Contact: Teague Bohlen