Hanisya Massey’s computer training firm, Higher Ground Enterprises, in Covina, CA, has come up against the former first couple’s similarly named production company. Sorting it out could take years.
Barack and Michelle Obama wanted to trademark their company’s name, but the United States Patent and Trademark Office deemed it too similar to the mark Ms. Massey registered in 2017 for her computer training company. Higher Ground Productions was looking to strike a deal.
So began the dispute, which escalated from an initial note sent by the Obamas’ lawyer to requests by Ms. Massey for onscreen roles in their productions and, now, an attempt by the former president and first lady’s company to have Ms. Massey’s trademark wiped off the books.
Obamas landed on “Higher Ground,” inspired by the Stevie Wonder song of the same name.
Higher Ground Enterprises started training people to use computers more than 10 years ago, Ms. Massey said. Her current services consulting, photography, videography, e-books and other learning materials. It was her father who encouraged her to trademark Higher Ground Enterprises, telling Ms. Massey, “you just never know.”
"Instead, of simply picking another name, the Obamas' lawyers have now filed a meritless petition to cancel my client's trademark so they can take it for themselves, says her Atty. Larry Zerner. This is really deplorable behavior. I hope that the Obamas realize that these actions are not consistent with the values they preach.”