Iowa State asks court to dismiss First Amendment lawsuit

Iowa State asks court to dismiss First Amendment lawsuit

Posted: Tuesday, September 9, 2014 4:35 pm | Updated: 5:14 pm, Tue Sep 9, 2014.

By Maddy Arnold,

Iowa State University submitted a motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed against employees by two students who said their rights to free speech and due process were violated.

Paul Gerlich and Erin Furleigh, the president and vice president of ISU NORML — an organization that advocates for the reform of marijuana laws — filed a lawsuit against President Steven Leath and vice presidents Warren Madden and Tom Hill and Leesha Zimmerman, a program coordinator in the trademark office earlier this summer.

Furleigh and Gerlich said their First Amendment rights were violated when Iowa State did not allow them to use the mascot Cy on some T-shirt designs. According to the motion to dismiss, the two students said Iowa State created “overbroad and vague” trademark guidelines and then “arbitrarily” used them to reject some of NORML’s T-shirts.

The 13-page motion to dismiss from Iowa State, that was filed on Sept. 4, requested that the lawsuit against the four university employees be dropped for a number of reasons. According to the document, both Furleigh and Gerlich failed to provide facts that showed their First Amendment right to free speech was violated.

According to the document, the lawsuit should be dismissed because Furleigh and Gerlich did not “allege sufficient facts to establish any constitutional right in the use of ISU’s marks, that they lacked adequate alternative avenues for communicating their message without ISU’s marks, that their proposed uses of the marks were fair uses, or that their proposed uses did not cause confusion.”

According to the document, fair use allows others to use a trademark if it is used as something other than a trademark, in a descriptive nature or in good faith. The motion to dismiss said using the ISU trademark on the shirt was not claimed as fair use in the lawsuit.

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