18 December 2015Trademarks

Donald Trump ‘must appear’ at TTAB

Running to be the leader of the free world may take up a lot of one’s time, but Republican candidate hopeful Donald Trump may have to clear space in his busy schedule to appear at a US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) proceeding.

The outspoken presidential candidate has been in a trademark battle with social media company Trump Your Competition (TYC) since last year and so far, despite calls from TYC, he has refused to testify during a hearing at the USPTO’s Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB).

But the dispute could be set to take a new direction after TYC asked a US court to intervene.

In a memorandum of law, filed at the US District Court for the Southern District of New York on December 10, TYC asked the court to order Trump to appear before the TTAB.

The dispute began last year when Trump opposed an application by TYC to trademark the name of its company.

Trump had complained that if the mark was approved, it would contribute to the dilution of the ‘Trump’ (in capital letters) trademark and a number of other marks in his portfolio and cause a likelihood of confusion.

The TTAB is currently hearing the row and TYC previously requested that Trump himself appears at the proceeding.

In a letter dated November 25, counsel for Trump said the candidate cannot appear due to his “high-profile, high-level” status and his “unfamiliarity with the facts and issues involved in this proceeding”.

“Trump is not involved in the day-to-day management of his trademark portfolio or the use of his marks, and relies on other executives to manage his trademarks,” the letter said, adding that TYC’s request is evidence of “harassment”.

Instead, Eric Trump, son of Donald and executive vice president of development and acquisitions at the Trump Organization, was offered as a representative to appear.

Despite acknowledging his busy schedule, TYC insisted that Trump should be present at the proceedings prompting it to file the request at the New York district court.

“Trump cannot avoid his obligation to appear to give testimony concerning his opposition to TYC’s registration on the basis of his ‘high-profile, high-level’ status ... presidents themselves—let alone presidential candidates—are not above the law,” the document stated.

“If Trump believes himself too important or too busy to sit for the deposition, the appropriate solution lies in withdrawing his meritless opposition to TYC’s registration application,” TYC concluded.

The journey from hotel mogul to the leader of the US is already a long and tricky one, but this potential detour may prove to add more co mplications than Trump had previously anticipated.

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