Ridiculously Thin Skinned Donald Trump Threatening Critics With Totally Bogus Trademark Infringement Lawsuit

from the so-presidential dept

So just last week, we wrote about the ridiculousness of Presidential candidate Ben Carson threatening a trademark (and copyright and publicity rights) lawsuit against people making Ben Carson (both pro- and anti-) clothing. And, now it appears that Donald Trump is doing the same ridiculous, censorious thing. Fresh off of threatening a completely bogus defamation lawsuit against a critical political organization, Alan Garten, one of Trump’s lawyers, fired off a hilariously bogus threat letter to the website StopTrump.us. As you can probably guess, the operators of that site are not fans of Mr. Trump. And, of course, that’s both completely allowed and encouraged in a democratic country with freedom of expression.

But not to Donald Trump or his censorious lawyers, apparently. They’re claiming it’s trademark infringement, as you can see in the ridiculous letter that was sent to the site. Garten throws out lots of scary sounding legal claims — almost all of which are totally bullshit.

… it has come to our attention that you have registered the Domain Name STOPTRUMP.US and have made a deliberate attempt to sell T-shirts online using TRUMP and DONALD TRUMP brands without any authorization from Mr. Trump. Please be advised that the unauthorized use of this Domain Name infringes upon Mr. Trump’s common law and statutory trademark rights in that the name Trump® is protected by US. Trademark Registration No. 3,526,411. Indeed, the Trump® trademark has even been declared “incontestable” by the US. Patent and Trademark Office pursuant to §1065 of the US. Trademark Act (15 U.S.C. § 1065). As such, your use of the Domain Name constitutes a violation of Section 43(a) of the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1125(a), entitling Mr. Trump to recover (i) your profits, (ii) any damages sustained by Mr. Trump, and (iii) the costs of bringing an action against you (which may be tripled by the reviewing court).

Your registration (and use) of the Domain Name also constitutes cyber-piracy in violation of the US. Anti-Cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act, 15. U.S.C. § 1125(d). Like the Lanham Act, under Anti-Cybersquatting Act, any person who, in bad faith, registers a domain name that is identical or confusingly similar to the trademark of another person can be held liable for damages — up to $100,000 per domain. 15 U.S.C. § 1117(d).

Scary, scary and completely bullshit. Law professor Eugene Volokh nicely dismantles Trump’s trademark claims, pointing out that political criticism is clearly protected free speech and not covered by trademark. Even if it was, any such lawsuit would fail dreadfully. There’s no likelihood of confusion here. There’s no dilution (which “expressly exempts uses of a trademark for ‘identifying and parodying, criticizing, or commenting upon the famous mark owner or the goods or services of the famous mark owner.'”). Volokh even leaves out the fact that the one registered trademark named only is for “Real estate services, namely, listing, leasing, financing, and managing commercial, residential, and hotel properties.” Protesting Trump’s political aspirations is none of that.

The cybersquatting claim is also a complete joke. There are so many cases on the books these days saying it’s fine to use a trademarked name for criticism, as it’s regularly approved for so-called “sucks sites,” and there’s no way that StopTrump doesn’t qualify.

So just this week alone, we’ve seen Trump and his lawyers make completely bogus threats using defamation law and trademark law to try to stifle political criticism. What’s next? Will he ask the FCC to silence his critics? Yup, that too.

I’m curious if there’s ever been a Presidential candidate so thin skinned and so willing to make baseless legal threats to stifle pretty ordinary critics?

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Comments on “Ridiculously Thin Skinned Donald Trump Threatening Critics With Totally Bogus Trademark Infringement Lawsuit”

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51 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Seriously. Please stop

He is a joke and a distraction from real candidates and real issues.

So… the pollsters have been lying all this time eh?

I want you to name any candidate from either side that is not a joke?

the closest non-joke is Rand Paul for wanting to follow the constitution, but I am betting you think the constitution is an illegitimate joke as well.

Please keep in mind none of the candidates are a joke, they are all serious about what they want and the power they gather from the people working for them or voting them into power.

You are the joke sir! And acting like every other simpleton in politics is a joke when it greatly impacts your life, is the joke!

Mason Wheeler (profile) says:

Re: Re: Seriously. Please stop

I want you to name any candidate from either side that is not a joke?

I’ve been watching both sides pretty closely, and it appears that we have two this time around: Hillary Clinton, (who by all rights ought to be a joke but unfortunately she’s deadly serious, with emphasis on the “deadly”,) and Bernie Sanders (who’s running on fixing a lot of problems not only in American politics but in the campaign process itself, and actually having a noteworthy amount of success. Which hasn’t stopped the segments of the mainstream media who want the next election to be a coronation for Hillary from doing their best to pretend he doesn’t exist, unfortunately.)

On the Republican side, no non-joke candidates that I can see this time. And that’s unfortunate, especially since whichever Republican candidate wins the primary is very likely to become the next President.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Seriously. Please stop

…Hillary Clinton, (who by all rights ought to be a joke…

Ronald Kessler recently published a book involving the White House staff and some of their stories. If even half of the stories involving Ms. Clinton are true she’s no joke and folks won’t be laughing should she be elected.

And yes this release appears to be politically motivated, instead of waiting until the election is over.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Seriously. Please stop

Bernie Sanders (who’s running on fixing a lot of problems not only in American politics but in the campaign process itself, and actually having a noteworthy amount of success. Which hasn’t stopped the segments of the mainstream media who want the next election to be a coronation for Hillary from doing their best to pretend he doesn’t exist, unfortunately.)

Hi Mason, You’re getting better!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Seriously. Please stop

“whichever Republican candidate wins the primary is very likely to become the next President.”

Based upon what, exactly?
Both eight & four years ago, there were many in the GOP who figured they had things wrapped up nice and neat – but then reality set in ruining their parade and making them very angry, they almost had to put Carl in a straight jacket. They then spent the next seven years doing their best to disrupt any and all federal government functions, except for their wars of course.

Mason Wheeler (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Seriously. Please stop

Based upon a pattern I’ve explained multiple times on here before, that goes back decades.

Remember Bush Sr.? Remember “read my lips, no new taxes?” And then there were new taxes, and a sucky economy, and people got sick of him and threw him out.

They picked a new guy who was kind of the anti-Bush: (relatively) young, charming, with an informal air about him. Problem is, he turned out to be thoroughly corrupt and oh-by-the-way also a sexual predator, and the country had to sit through years of scandal upon scandal upon scandal. (Everyone remembers Monica Lewinsky; do you remember the rest of them? I do.) The Clinton presidency was worse than the Bush presidency, and after 8 years of Clinton screwing around, people were fed up… so we got sick of him and threw him out.

Of course, it seems utterly bizarre now, but do you remember what Bush Jr.’s campaign platform was, the first time around? “I will restore dignity to the White House.” It was sorely needed, and he did a great job of portraying himself as the anti-Clinton, so we elected him. And we all remember how that went: he was utterly incompetent and in way over his head, especially after 9/11, and the Bush Jr. presidency turned out to be worse than the Clinton presidency. After 8 years of him screwing things up, we got sick of it and threw him out.

Well, you can guess what happened next, right? Yup: we elected the guy who managed to portray himself as the Anti-Bush. Hope and Change and all that. Well, things have changed since then, but it’s been mostly more of the same changes we were getting through the Bush years: changes for the worse. The Obama administration has been even worse than the Bush Jr. administration, and after 8 years of him screwing things up… it’s not hard to guess what’s going to happen in the next election.

The next President is going to be whichever Republican candidate most successfully portrays himself as the Anti-Obama. (And he or she will most likely end up being even worse than Obama… somehow.) You can say no, that’s not going to happen, but consider this: for a significant percentage of today’s voters, that’s the only pattern they’ve ever known. And the ones older than that are… well… older, and statistically speaking older demographics are more likely to vote Republican.

I don’t like it, but I believe that it’s going to happen. Just watch and see.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Seriously. Please stop

“So… the pollsters have been lying all this time eh?”

If that was sarcasm, I can only assume you haven’t lived here very long. Yes. Absolutely. Polls quoted by the unholy trinity of cable news are complete B.S.

This guys support comes from the fact that people hate news-o-ganda MORE than they hate him. If Fox, CNN, and MSNBC all hate you, you must be doing something right.

Of course liking a scrappy unhousebroken dog at the pound doesn’t mean you want to bring it home.

Anonymous Coward says:

He's going to win.....

As a people, we (Americans) are like rubber bands. When we are not happy with something, we tend to go the other direction to the extreme. Look at Bush to Obama.. you couldn’t be any different, yet in a short span we went from one to the other. We hated Bush.. so we went to Obama..now we hate Obama.. and if history is any indication, we are about to swing wildly in the other direction…

Personally, I hope his first executive order is to create a “National Hairstyle” that looks like his… LOL.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: He's going to win.....NOT

Good.. we’ll make you first in line for a haircut.. if you don’t have any hair, we will provide you with some! ๐Ÿ™‚ See how your government can help you Lib? As a bonus, well… unless the far right blow up the planet with their nukes before you can get to a barber, we’ll even let you name the haircut…

What say you?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 He's going to win.....NOT

Hey, I’ve seen guys put drones over life and property, declare that their daughter is sick and they would prefer to let the earth burn in order to not pay any taxes to save the earth, ironically – this was to save his daughter, and even nuke this and nuke that.

You should clearly mark sarcasm in some way, or expect to be taken at face value.

Anonymous Coward says:

Thin skinned? No. Pragmatic? Certainly.

It’s interesting watching obvious leftists try to dismantle someone like Trump–a little like watching terriers worry at a bear: a lot of noise, but ultimately the bear probably doesn’t even notice they exist.

On to the meat of my post:

1. Trump banks on over the top gestures and aggressive behaviour–which, last I checked, is gaining him massive popularity. He even has 25% of the black vote, which is about four times the average support given Republicans by blacks. His support with Latinos is also quite strong–30% or so, last I checked. So claiming he’s “thin skinned” for another one of his aggressive antics is simple minded at best, and disingenuous at worst.

2. Trump has already made it clear he sees absolutely no problem with (mis)using any legal means at his disposal to get ahead. This is not a character flaw, it is a strength. He has also made it clear that just because he’ll use a law, doesn’t mean he agrees with it–see his answer on taxes. To paraphrase: “Of course I pay as little as possible–what do you think I am, an idiot? But I’m going to close a lot of the loopholes guys like me use, because they’re bullshit.”

It’s a little depressing I have to explain this, but liberals always seem to have difficulty seeing what isn’t immediately in front of their noses.

Oh well.

Roger Strong (profile) says:

Re: Re: Thin skinned? No. Pragmatic? Certainly.

Define “center.”

If Reagan ran today as a Republican he’d be tarred and feathered as left-wing lib’rul. It’s questionable which side of “center” Obama is on, having stuck almost entirely to pre-2009 Republican policies. Even ObamaCare is best described as “15 years of Republican policy until the moment Obama adopted it.”

And Hillary Clinton should be the Republican candidate running against Bernie Sanders.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Thin skinned? No. Pragmatic? Certainly.

That is not the political centre, which is where a candidate tries to gain favour with electors from both sides of the debate.
What you described is a politician that represents the people, rather than trying to rule them, such as members of the Pirate party, and currently have little chance of being elected.

Wendy Cockcroft says:

Re: Re: Thin skinned? No. Pragmatic? Certainly.

And THAT is why no centrist candidate has a flippin’ chance. Karl Bode calls it “Partisan Nitwit Disease” and he’s right.

America will get a centrist candidate with a reasonable chance of success when the partisan nonsense and “ideological purity” (extremism!) stops.

Right now, Bernie is about the best hope you’ve got of pulling political discourse back towards the middle like Jeremy Corbyn is over here. I doubt they can deliver what they want but they can reverse the rightward surge and that needs to happen.

As it is, to be in the middle is to automatically get labelled “leftist,” merely for disagreeing with right wing talking points. That’s got to stop.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Thin skinned? No. Pragmatic? Certainly.

  1. The really horrible thing is that you really believe what you just said. You don’t even realize how slanted the narrative has become, and the predictable, relativist bullshit that one might posit to the contrary is only further (depressing) evidence of this very fact. I’ve been reading you for years–because most of your technical writing is quite intelligent–but you are only “moderate” because the political climate in the US is so insanely, wildly slanted leftwards that true moderates are painted as right wing extremists, middling leftsts are considered “moderate”, and batshit extremists are “left wing”.

    2. If you’re so politically unbiased, where is the cutting analysis of how Clinton would be in jail ten times over if she were anyone else? FFS, you went ON AND ON AND ON about (IIRC, it’s been a while) Petraeus and Manning and Snowden and Aaron whats-his-name, who were all nailed on various state secrets related charges . . . and now that our would-be psycho Empress has been caught committing perjury, trafficking in state secrets, violating numerous classified info guidelines, and committing multiple obstructions of justice (destruction of evidence, witness tampering, etc), there’s an eerie silence on the entire subject. Weird. Of course, maybe I’m just missing something; I don’t read TD as closely as I did a few years ago.

    3. You care a lot more about the kind of superficial placation of technical freedom than you do actual freedom & innovation, at least when it’s come to net neutrality–although I may have some of Cory’s articles mixed up with yours; I don’t really pay much attention these days to who writes what–yes, net neutrality is a wonderful idea, but giving the government the perceived moral right to tamper with (admittedly abusive and monopolistic) companies’ “network management” is almost certain not to end with simple fair treatment of packets. There are too many potential loop holes that could be used to silence inconvenient parties at some point in the future. I do agree the short term benefits of Title II have been promising, but I’m waiting with great trepidation for the other shoe to drop, and I haven’t seen any evidence that you (or the other writers) have even the faintest apprehension that this is even a possible problem. To me, that’s classical leftist shortsightedness, and it only ends well when blind luck is involved.

Monday (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Thin skinned? No. Pragmatic? Certainly.

AND, and, Trump has evolved those attacks into unfounded attacks on former U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.
The Gov’t isn’t even sure they’re going to even prosecute now. They’ve conducted their internal investigation and so far don’t want to charge him.
Trump still carries on with his attacks. He doubles down on every racist, bigoted, or misogynistic word that comes out of his pathetic mouth.
Everyone I speak with is all for Trump… “[h]e’s the best thing to happen to the Democrats since the creation of the ‘Reality show'”, and I agree. Trump is the best show out there, and he has FoxNEWS in his corner, ‘cuz he tells it like it is, except, what it is, is eighty percent of the American population laughing at him, and NOT with him.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Thin skinned? No. Pragmatic? Certainly.

2. Trump has already made it clear he sees absolutely no problem with (mis)using any legal means at his disposal to get ahead. This is not a character flaw, it is a strength.

Ah the perks of being rich… If I were to abuse the legal system for my own gains I’d be slapped down by an irate judge, but when someone as rich as Trump does it you get people saying that it’s one of their ‘strengths’.

I will agree that in a sense such a character ‘quirk’ is indeed a strength, as it certainly benefits the one who has it, but given it often comes at the cost of everyone around them, anyone with that particular ‘quirk’ is not someone that should be put in any position of power, and certainly not the position of President.

Someone who focuses first on what benefits them is someone who’s not going to pay much attention to collateral damage, so the less power they have, the less damage they can cause.

He has also made it clear that just because he’ll use a law, doesn’t mean he agrees with it–see his answer on taxes. To paraphrase: “Of course I pay as little as possible–what do you think I am, an idiot? But I’m going to close a lot of the loopholes guys like me use, because they’re bullshit.”

And if you believe him when he says that I’ve got some lovely lunar property I’d be delighted to sell you. “I have no problem using these loopholes for my own gain, but I promise I’d close them, eliminating my ability to use them, if put in a position to do so.” Yeah, I’m sure.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Thin skinned? No. Pragmatic? Certainly.

And like any good socialist, you assume that closing one money making opportunity isn’t opening the door to another.

Besides: you probably believe the promises of your chosen candidates–and I haven’t especially chosen Trump as MY candidate, but I certainly enjoy watching people yammer ineffectually about his methods.

TBH, even if he lied about everything he’s said, at least he’s not asking for us to apologize for being white and American, and the effect he’s had on public discourse by that mere fact alone warrants him more respect than any other candidate.

Monday (profile) says:

Right-wing Dick in a Boiler Suit...

I am just curious. Has anybody ever “fired-off” a letter back with the cons of filing a bogus lawsuit, filled with false claims?
I mean, there has to be some kind of standard boiler plate reply that someone can send in response to these malicious and false legal claims.
You are going to foot the bill; let’s go to court, we could use the publicity, etc etc… They have no ‘gag’ order, so why not just make the threat as public as humanly possible?
Bring a gun to their knife fight.

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