If you apply for a trademark that references a living president or a political candidate, prepare to be denied. Currently there are over 275 active trademark applications containing the word “TRUMP” and chances are, unless they were filed by Donald Trump or his family, then many of those applications will be denied. Why? Because the United States Patent and Trademark Office requires the consent of any living individual to register a trademark containing their name. That means, presuming most of these TRUMP-formative trademarks will be denied, applicants spent over $75,000 in government filing fees on trademarks that had little to no chance of ever being accepted. The writers of this blog could think of many better ways to spend that money.
Since the presidential election, applications containing the name TRUMP have skyrocketed. Support and distain for Donald Trump and other political figures have spurred a huge number of TRUMP trademark applications, including TRUMP HARDER 2020, PUTIN OF TRUMP’S UNITED STATES, TRUMP DON’T SURF, and TRUMP ON! These trademarks, and others, are likely to be denied.
If you apply for a trademark registration that invokes a political candidate or elected officials name or likeness, you will likely be denied under Section 2(c) of the Lanham Act, which requires written consent when attempting to register a name identifying a living individual. For the purposes of Section 2(c), a name in a mark identifies a particular living individual if the person bearing the name will be associated with the mark as used on the goods or services because: (1) the person is so well known that the public would reasonably assume a connection between the person and the goods or services; or (2) the individual is publicly connected with the business in which the mark is used.”
For example, applicants have filed over 180 trademark applications that include the word “Obama” and only two of them have achieved a registration. Those successful applications were filed by the official Presidential Inaugural Committee and the Barack Obama Foundation. That means that, at the very least, applicants spent over $50,000 in government filing fees alone on OBAMA applications that were denied and likely had little to no chance of ever being accepted in the first place.