Joanne Mafunda Moyo
21 July 2023 • 4 min read
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Registering your trademark can be an uphill battle if your name is not unique enough or too similar to another brand. Just ask former President Donald Trump, whose controversial social media platform “Truth Social” just got rejected by the USPTO.
But on what basis did the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) block Trump’s trademark? And can it happen to you?
Let’s look at this T.M. bidding and discuss some potential solutions you can implement. But first, we’ll give you a brief background on Trump’s trademark filing history.
In January 2021, Trump was banned from Twitter. A few months later, after deciding he didn’t want to participate directly on Parler's free speech platform, he announced that he would create a social media app to compete against Twitter—Truth Social.
To protect his name rights in Truth Social, Trump filed a U.S. trademark on the 9th of July 2021. He used a new company called Trump Media & Technology Group Corp., which was formed on the 1st of February 2021, and has ONLY ONE trademark: TRUMP MEDIA & TECHNOLOGY GROUP CORP.
However, Trump has many more trademarks.
He has filed 270 + trademarks in his personal capacity with the USPTO. Currently, Trump has 68 live trademarks, and 260 are abandoned. Nearly 200 have been filed since he announced his presidential run in 2015.
The entire Trump family has applied for over 1,000 trademarks since the late 1980s, with his daughter Ivanka having filed 82 trademarks—many of which are canceled recently as she abandons products quickly.
Now, let’s talk about his current Truth Social trademark bid.
On the 2nd of August 2022, Trump’s lawyers received a trademark rejection notice from the USPTO because the wording “Truth Social” was very similar to two existing trademarks. There was a risk of trademark infringement.
The USPTO stated that Trump’s trademark would create a likelihood of confusion among customers.
How can you overcome this objection if you’re caught in the same situation in the USA?
First, you should know that such a refusal from the USPTO is very common, so there’s no need to panic. If you do receive one, there are several things you can do to address this objection:
You can backtrack to the drawing board to create a unique brand name. If you want to avoid such an objection altogether, it’s better to have a distinct name that is not common from the get-go.
So, ensure you research and come up with something that stands out.
If you have deep pockets like President Trump, you can appeal the decision, especially if you want the registration badly enough. Most big corporations with the money will likely present extensive arguments that contain dictionary definitions explaining why the two trademarks are not so similar.
If you have a prior trademark registered using the same brand name in different classes or for different goods or services, then we have good news! You can use this existing trademark to strengthen your chances of registering the rejected trademark.
For President Trump, for example, his Truth Social trademark was accepted for drinking glasses, flags, and clothing earlier in 2022. This’ll likely give his team a strong point in their defense argument.
You can always avoid the legal headache of presenting evidence to the USPTO by contacting the other owners and getting them to agree to co-exist. The only challenge would be to get the USPTO to accept this co-existence.
By remembering the above lessons, you can avoid your trademark rejection. It also doesn’t hurt to get some help with your trademark application. Best of luck and remember to take your time!
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