Donald Trump’s trademarked campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again”, has become an internet and commercial sensation, selling tens of thousands of T-shirts and hats. During his last presidential campaign in 2012, Trump filed a trademark application for the phrase, which was approved four months ago. Ronald Reagan was the first to use the phrase during his campaign.
Fans and supporters of Trump can buy official “Make America Great Again” campaign merchandise from Trump’s site for $25. However, dozens of websites are offering copycat merchandise for $5. Trump’s attorneys have responded to sellers of copycat merchandise by firing off several cease-and-desist letters.
According to Trump and his attorneys, the letters are not about raising money for his campaign, but about protecting the “Trump brand”. Trump’s name has been used in real estate for decades, and now he seeks the same brand protection for his campaign slogan.
The trademark application filed by Trump in 2012 only covers political action committee services, but says nothing about clothing or other merchandise. A new trademark application filed by Trump in August of this year covers merchandise such as coffee mugs, hats and clothing.
An argument could be made that when the public thinks of “Make America Great Again”, they are associating that phrase with Donald Trump. This might give it the same legal protections as other iconic brands. When people hear the phrase “Breakfast of Champions”, they think of Wheaties. For this reason, Trump might be able to sue counterfeit merchandisers for trademark infringement. A counter-argument could be made that some people will associate the phrase with Ronald Reagan, and not Donald Trump.
Other politicians have trademarked campaign slogans and signs, such as Barack Obama and his rising “O” logo. Brand associations and political candidates create interesting intellectual property litigation. For future updates on this topic, follow Klein Trial Lawyers by adding us on Facebook.
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