(WASHINGTON) Can the formula “TRUMP TOO SMALL,” which translates to “Trump is too small” and has a strong sexual connotation in English, be registered in the Trademark Registry without the former US president’s consent?
The venerable Supreme Court of the United States on Monday agreed to take up this seemingly trivial question, but it strengthened the freedom to criticize public officials and the ban on defamation.
The file comes from a California lawyer who, in 2018, wanted to file this “mark” in order to attach it to T-shirts and hats critical of Donald Trump’s actions in the White House. In his suggestion, Steve Elster called the formula “political commentary”.
The formula was inspired by a famous joke made during the debates between the 2016 Republican primary candidates. Senator Marco Rubio, noting that Donald Trump had small hands, dropped: “And you know what we say guys with small hands…”
The agency responsible for registering trademarks denied Steve Elster’s application, on the grounds that the law required the consent of living persons to register their names. Then the lawyer turned to justice.
A court and then an appeals court ruled in his favor in the name of defending freedom of expression and the right to criticize “public figures”.
Then the federal authorities asked the Supreme Court to intervene. In a court document, they argued that the refusal to register this formulation in the Trademark Registry did not prohibit its use but only deprived it of the protections associated with intellectual property law.
Similar debates have already returned to the Supreme Court which, for example, in 2019 ruled in favor of a designer of a clothing line called “FUCT”, which the authorities refused to register because of its vulgarity.
“Total coffee aficionado. Travel buff. Music ninja. Bacon nerd. Beeraholic.”