Benjamin Appelbaum, Attorney at Law

Trademark and the presidential election

Readers are likely well aware that campaigns for the next presidential election have already started. There are many things that go along with this including extra news coverage and debates. It could also lead to candidates doing other things that readers may not consider, such as seeking trademarks on campaign slogans.

Donald Trump has already done that very thing. He has trademarked “Make America Great Again.” In fact, that trademark was sought shortly after the last election. He was not actually able to secure that trademark until this past summer however.

There are limits to the trademark protection he secured. The trademark does not apply to merchandise such as T-shirts and hats. Instead, it is for “political action committee services.” Generally, when trademark protection does not extend to merchandise, items with this phrase on it can be sold by a variety of people without fear of legal retaliation. To try to remedy that, in August of this past year he also applied to trademark the phrase in connection with:

  • Blogs
  • Clothing
  • Campaign buttons
  • Bumper stickers

As was the case with the first trademark, it could take some time before the second one is granted.

Despite this time frame, it is possible that a case could be made that the phrase is already associated with Trump in the situations listed above. If that argument succeeds, it would be because a commercial secondary meaning of the phrase exists.

While trademarks in conjunction with presidential elections may seem odd, the reality is they have been filed in the past as well. As is the case in any trademark matter, a lawyer can be of assistance in establishing it.

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Benjamin Appelbaum, Attorney at Law - Intellectual Property

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