As people around the globe grapple with the reality that Donald Trump is now the most powerful man in the world, the new US President has been busy taking steps to protect his intellectual property rights.
Trump and “Make America great”
USPTO records show that Mr Trump and his team wasted little time in seeking Trade Mark protection for the slogan “Make America Great”, which he coined during a pre-inauguration interview with the Washington Post. Although it should come as no surprise that an “allegedly” savvy businessman has sought to protect his intellectual property, this story raises an interesting question: To what extent do slogans qualify for Trade Mark protection?
As the formulation of an effective slogan involves a significant amount of investment and effort, brand owners regularly turn to Trade Mark law in a bid to secure exclusive usage rights. Slogans can play an important role in wider branding strategies but they are not always intentionally created to function as Trade Marks.
Decided case law states that a slogan can be registered as a Trade Mark, provided that it has the capacity to distinguish the goods or services of an undertaking from those of other undertakings. This means that, just like other types of Trade Mark, the slogan must be distinctive and not descriptive. Examples of successfully registered slogans include HAVE A BREAK®, BEANZ MEANZ HEINZ®, JUST DO IT® and SHOULD’VE GONE TO SPECSAVERS®.
If your slogan meets with an objection on non-distinctive grounds, it might be possible to secure registration at a later date, once it has been used in the marketplace and acquired consumer recognition. Evidence of “acquired distinctiveness” can be presented and companies have successfully relied upon this tactic.
In summary, registerable Trade Marks take different forms and if your slogan is distinctive, not descriptive and has not already been registered by someone else, then registration should be sought to protect your brand position and investment.
Our experienced Trade Mark Team at Albright IP are well-placed to offer specific advice in relation to all aspects of trademark protection, ownership and enforcement.