You bet “Make America Great Again” is trademarked.
And, no surprise, the trademark registration reads …
OK, that’s to be expected.
But, here are a couple of wrinkles that may surprise you …
First, records show that Trump applied to trademark the phrase “Make America Great Again” a mere 6 days after President Obama’s second term victory over Mitt Romney.
The timing suggests that Trump was preparing his latest run for president long before most people imagine.
Was the phrase original as Trump often claims?
It’s (relatively) common knowledge that Ronald Reagan used the “Make America Great Again” slogan in his 1980 campaign, showcasing it prominently in everything from buttons to posters to his acceptance speech at the Republican convention.
Legally, somebody who can prove “first use” is entitled to trademark protection.
Since Reagan used the phrase, he trumps Trump on first use … but, since he’s dead, he’s not likely to file a challenge for Trump’s specified usage for “political action committee service, namely, promoting public awareness of political issues and fundraising in the field of politics.”
The narrow usage specification caused Trump some minor heartburn and cost him a few buckos.
According to the Daily Beast:
In filing the trademark back in 2012, Trump did not seem to anticipate how popular it would become. He failed to claim the exclusive right to use “Make America Great Again” on clothing such as T-shirts and hats like the one Trump now famously sports.
In what may be seen as a bit of what goes around comes around, Meri Bares and Bobby Estell of California took note of Trump’s oversight. They filed application number 86716074 on Aug. 5, 2015 to trademark the use of “Make America Great Again” not just on hats and T-shirts, but also on everything from sweatshirts to socks and swimsuits, from backpacks to change purses to wallets, even “dog apparel.”
Two days later, Estell, who goes by Bobby Bones, tweeted:
“hey @realDonaldTrump, if you donate 100k to @stjude, I will give you your clothing trademrk back. thanks!—Bobby”
St. Jude being St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Estell posted a follow-up tweet later on Aug. 7:
“Hey @realDonaldTrump. I don’t even want this trademark. Let’s get this thing done. I want no money. Just for @StJude”
On Oct. 27, 2015 Trump issued a check for an undisclosed amount — reportedly the full $100,000 — to the hospital.
“Transfer of Trademark,” read an accompanying notation on the check.
On Nov. 11, a U.S. Trademark examiner made the transfer official.
Hat tips to Reagan for coining the slogan, to Trump for a timely revival and trademark initiative, and to Bobby Bones for clever trolling and for donating the money to St. Jude’s Hospital.