When President Donald Trump’s campaign for re-election starts gearing up for the 2020 election season, you will know it when you hear him say that he wants to “keep America great.” Trump has already filed two trademark applications to protect the use of this next incarnation of the political slogan which helped to put him in the White House.
On Wednesday, January 18th, two days before Trump took the oath of office at his inauguration, a trademark attorney representing Trump filed U.S. Trademark Serial No. 87305551. This application seeks to register the standard character mark “KEEP AMERICA GREAT” in seven trademark classes. Trump is seeking to protect the use of that mark on bumper stickers, political pamphlets for his campaign, clothing, campaign buttons, political websites, political fundraising, political blogs and online social media services. The same day saw the filing of U.S. Trademark Serial No. 83705582, which seeks to protect the use of the standard character mark “KEEP AMERICA GREAT!” for the same goods and services, providing the same message with perhaps a little more optimism.
The story surrounding Trump’s decision to file the trademarks is a perfect example of his brusque style. An interview with Trump published by The Washington Post, also dated January 18th, describes how the then-President-elect stopped his interview briefly after saying that slogan to the interviewer to ask a lawyer to trademark that slogan. The Post’s coverage clearly states that he immediately wanted to trademark two versions of “Keep America Great,” one with an exclamation point and one without.
The trademark applications would not be an idle tool in Trump’s re-election arsenal. In that same Washington Post piece, reporter Karen Tumulty indicated that Trump was aggressive in protecting his rights to “Make America Great Again,” a standard character mark which he holds the rights to through U.S. Trademark Registration No. 4773272. The same trademark attorney filed the application for this mark on November 19th, 2012, within two weeks of former-President Barack Obama’s electoral victory over Mitt Romney in the last election for U.S. President. According to Tumulty, Trump’s legal team fired off cease-and-desist letters to Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) when they started using the phrase in their own speeches seeking the Republican Party’s nomination for presidential candidate this summer.
It is possible that Trump might not be able to secure the trademark rights to “Keep America Great” all that easily, however. On July 6th, 2016, Andreas Mueller of Washington D.C. filed an application for U.S. Trademark Serial No. 87094382, which would protect the use of the standard character mark “KEEP AMERICA GREAT”. The trademark, which is currently in the examination process, claims the use of the mark in two classes, one of which overlaps with Trump’s recent filings. Both Trump and Mueller are seeking to protect the use of the phrase in international trademark class 25, which covers clothing products. Both Trump and Mueller are seeking to use the phrase in commerce on T-shirts, tank tops and hats. Trump could still secure the use of “Keep America Great” on goods in other classes but this prior application could pose an issue during the examination process.