It appears that Keeping America Great requires keeping America from using such phrases as Keeping America Great. The Trump legal team has moved to trademark the slogan “Keep America Great!” Previously an effort to trademark the very same phrase was denied by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
We have been discussing a disturbing trend in copyright and trademark claims over things occurring in public or common phrases or terms. (For a prior column, click here). We have often discussed the abusive expansion of copyright and trademark laws. This includes common phrases, symbols, and images being claimed as private property. (here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here). This included a New York artist claiming that he holds the trademark to symbol π.
Claiming ownership to such a slogan as “Make America Great” is an example of our runaway copyright and trademark claims. The Trump application would bar its use on T-shirts, tank tops, “baby clothing, namely, one piece garments,” and “printed publications, namely, pamphlets providing information regarding Donald J. Trump as a political candidate.”
I have long argued that there must be a reexamination of trademark and copyright protections in light of the use of the laws to claim ownership to common expressions and symbols. The motivation is likely not to make profit but to keep others from using and mocking the slogan in commercial products. Yet, the underlying problem remains with the expanding scope of both trademark and copyright claims.
What do you think?