Is President Trump the most business savvy of all United States presidents? The outcome of this debate may be uncertain, but if the number of trademarks were an indication of business savvy, he probably takes the lead. Trademarks are an essential component of running a business.
The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is responsible for the registration of trademarks (among other things). The USPTO’s records are open to the public, and according to some quick searches, it appears that President Trump and his associated for-profit businesses retain the rights to over 100 active registered trademarks. He has submitted over 300 trademark applications throughout his years in business. In addition, there are another six (6) trademarks submitted by the non-profit organization, Donald J. Trump for President, Inc., four (4) of which are currently pending registration. Melania appears to have an application pending for MELANIA for jewelry, and Ivanka Trump has submitted 80 applications, of which 29 are active registrations, with another 20 pending registration.
It appears that the Trump family has some “rules of thumb” when it comes to protecting their trademarks. Here are the top three (3) lessons learned from trademarking TRUMP.
Lesson #1. “1b” is Key.
There are two (2) types of trademark applications with regards to timing; a Section 1b Intent-To-Use application, or a Section 1a Actual-Use application.
In the beginning, the two types are processed in the same way; however, the Section 1b application will not become a registered trademark (and be awarded the full protections afforded to registered marks) until the mark is actually used in commerce. The Trumps originally submitted many of their marks as Section 1b applications. By filing their applications before actually using the mark in commerce, the Trumps have protected their marks from use by others.
Lesson #2. Words and Logos.
The USPTO accepts trademark registrations for the word mark alone, the logo itself, or both the logo and the word. Receiving a registration for the trademarked word is important, as logo designs often change slightly over time. However, it is possible to trademark the name and logo in a single application. The Trump family files separate applications; one for the word alone, and a second that includes the logo design along with any words depicted in the logo. This strategy allows them to protect the trademarked word if their designs change; and are also protects their designs, in case they wish to keep the design, but change the word.
Lesson #3. Consent Required.
The Trademark Manual of Examining Procedure (TMEP) is the rule book for the USPTO when it comes to issuing registrations. One section clearly states that a living person must give his or her consent to use their name as a trademark or part of a trademark (15 U.S.C. §1052). Many (but not all) of the Trump trademarks include their names; “Trump,” “Ivanka Trump,” “Melania,” etc. In these cases, to keep the trademark application moving toward registration, the Trumps will submit a formal consent to use their name(s) with each application.
With well over 400 trademark applications submitted by the Trump family, it takes a team of professionals to manage their intellectual property portfolio. They must ensure that each application is submitted properly, applications are tracked, requests for information are fulfilled, registrations are received, future deadlines are noted, and possible new opportunities are brought to the attention of the family. A team of intellectual property professionals or key person is essential to the success of any business or organization. Decision makers are well served when they find a great team member to help them manage their intellectual property portfolio (trademarks, patents, licensing, copyrights, etc.).
For more information on registering a trademark, visit Trademark360™ for a complimentary on-line trademark evaluation.