David Ortiz and President Obama, posted on Twitter
David Ortiz and President Obama, posted on Twitter

But first, let me take a selfie… and make it part of a potential feud between Samsung and the White House over use of President Obama’s likeness.

The White House announced on April 3 that it objected to Samsung’s promotional use of a “selfie” photograph taken by Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz of himself and the President. The Red Sox team visited the White House on April 1 as the reigning World Series champions.

Ortiz took the photo of himself with President Obama with a Samsung Galaxy smartphone. Samsung then posted the photo on Twitter to millions of followers, as Ortiz holds an endorsement deal with Samsung.

White House press secretary Jay Carney, however, said, “As a rule the White House objects to attempts to use the president’s likeness for commercial purposes. And we certainly object in this case.” Carney did not say whether the White House has contacted Samsung’s legal team.

Samsung did not comment when asked whether the selfie was a part of the Boston slugger’s endorsement deal. Ortiz claimed that the selfie was not part of his deal, and instead was a spur-of-the-moment action.

The Samsung legal department has become familiar with selfies recently. After Academy Awards host Ellen DeGeneres took a selfie during the awards show, questions arose as to who controlled the copyright on the popular photo. Some said DeGeneres who posted the photo, some said Bradley Cooper who took the photo, and others speculated whether it should be Samsung, who had a promotional deal with the Academy for the event.

As The Wall Street Journal notes, advertising has become central to Samsung’s growth in America, especially as it continues to challenge Apple. The company spent $363 million in U.S. advertising in 2013, outpacing Apple by $13 million. Samsung does use traditional media channels such as TV, print, and radio, but it has also enlisted advertising firms to help weave the brand into pop culture, such as its associations with the Academy and Ortiz.


For more on Samsung in legal news, check out these IC articles:

Apple and Samsung head back to court again

South Korean executives reveal compensation under revised rulings

Everything you want to know about Apple vs. Samsung patent trial

Judge denies Apple’s attempt to bar sale of Samsung phones in U.S.