I am creating an apparel brand and want to use the words "Donald Trump" in the company name. Is this illegal? I will be selling political apparel.


If you are Donald Trump posting under an assumed name then it is illegal, because he is currently president of the USA and not supposed to run any businesses.

If you are not Donald Trump, then be aware that Donald Trump owns a trademark for "Donald Trump" according to this site https://onlinetrademarkattorneys.com/donald-trump-trademarks/ so you will be infringing on his trademark.

  • So in essence, it is illegal to use the words "Donald Trump" in my company name even if another word comes after it? (Just to be clear) Thank you! – Ryan Moreno Jan 12 '19 at 3:10
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    (1) Are you sure it is illegal for the President to run a business? I'm not aware of any law that forbids it, though it has not been customary for presidents to do so and there is strong political pressure against it. The limitations on outside income from the 1978 Ethics in Government Act (5 USC 501-505) apparently do not apply to the President (the definition of "officer or employee" in 5 USC 505 references 18 USC 202, where paragraph (c) explicitly excludes the President). – Nate Eldredge Jan 13 '19 at 15:48
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    (2) It's my understanding that trademarks apply to a specific type of good or service. So the question would be whether Trump owns a trademark for "Donald Trump" as used to market clothing or some related product. He doesn't and can't have a blanket trademark on all uses. Incidentally, someone named Mark Wallis was granted trademark #87956983 for "Donald Trump Barf Bag". – Nate Eldredge Jan 13 '19 at 15:54

A trademark is for a specific kind of thing. That's why, in his commercials, Bill Cosby keeps saying "Jell-O Brand Gelatin."

On a trademark application, you must list the Goods or Services for which the proposed trademark will be used.

"You may clarify or limit the goods/services but you may not expand or broaden the goods/services. For example, if you filed for “shirts,” you may limit the goods to specific types of shirts such as “t-shirts and sweatshirts.” However, you may not change the goods to “pants.” Likewise, if you file for “jewelry,” you may change the goods to specific types of jewelry such as “jewelry, namely, earrings.” However, you may not change the goods to a service such as “jewelry stores.”" https://www.uspto.gov/sites/default/files/documents/BasicFacts.pdf

It appears to me that as long as you don't use the name "Donald Trump" for the same goods/services that his copyright is for, there is no infringement. But if I were you, I would go ahead and apply for a trademark of your own. If the USPTO approves your trademark application for "Donald Trump Apparel" (or whatever) then you'll be way ahead of the game.

See also: https://www.uspto.gov/trademarks-getting-started/trademark-basics


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