Pa. company halts sales of Smokey Bear Trump resistance t-shirts

Written by Reid Frazier/The Allegheny Front | Mar 10, 2017 5:20 AM

Photo by Reid Frazier/The Allegheny Front

(Pittsburgh) -- Last month, a Pittsburgh company began selling a t-shirt on its web site promoting the resistance to the Trump administration.

It showed a bear wearing a hat, but the U.S. government thinks the creature on the shirt looks like one of its own creations -- Smokey Bear.

Now, it's demanded the company stop selling the shirt.

It was a simple enough design : a bear staring out from under the brim of a hat that has the word 'Resist' on it. 

Jay Fanelli,  co-founder and lead designer for the t-shirt maker Cotton Bureau, spoke to The Allegheny Front last  month.                                                               

"The bear...I would say he's angry. Maybe a little judgemental?" he said. "He's sort of looking over the brim of his hat."

The shirt was one of several on the company's web site with anti-Trump messages that have done well since the election. 

But this week, Fanelli got a cease-and-desist letter from a company called the Metis Group, which oversees licensing for Smokey Bear for the US Department of Agriculture.

Libby Kavoulakis, owner of the Metis Group, says you can't use Smokey to make political statements.

 "He's not a political figure, he doesn't have a political view," she said. "He's an American icon for wildfire prevention."

This isn't Smokey's first experience in the heat of political battle.

His image has been used to protest logging and fracking and other issues.

Cotton Bureau, which declined to comment on the letter, no longer has the t-shirt on its web site.

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