Shortly after Lindner filed his application, DTTM Operations, the company that manages Donald Trump’s business interests, filed an opposition to the trademark registration. The former president of the United States relied on his own European trademark registration of the Trump brand for hotels, golf clubs, restaurants and bars, among other things. He owns several Trump golf resorts in Scotland and Ireland.
Of course, golf clubs and condoms have little to do with each other. So the consumer will hardly confuse the two brands easily, and therefore, the former president also relies on the global reputation of the Trump brand. After all, trademark law stipulates that brands with a great reputation get very broad protection. As a well-known trademark, you don’t have to demonstrate a risk of confusion; the infringement can occur once the consumer establishes a link between the two trademarks. According to Trump, that’s the scenario here: he will no doubt be associated with the Trump condom, a product that “ridicules” him, according to the ex-president.
Individual vs Trump trademark
Frank Lindner, the guy who came up with the idea for a Trump condom, doesn’t dispute that the person Trump, and all his antics, has a great reputation. However, according to Lindner, in this opposition procedure, it is not about the person Trump, but rather about the Trump trademark. This is the registered trademark Trump for these golf resorts. This trademark Trump has no reputation, says Lindner.
EUIPO will decide on this matter in a few months’ time. If Trump loses out, the Trump condom will receive the desired trademark registration. But even then, Lindner shouldn’t assume he’s going to get rich quickly. Next to an opposition procedure, it is also possible to start an invalidity procedure, once the trademark is registered. In this procedure a celebrity like Trump can rely on his reputation as an individual, even without having a trademark registration. So should Trump lose, he could try to invalidate the registration based on the so-called ‘right to a name’.
Michael Jackson and Jimi Henrix
Historically he stands a chance: celebrities like Michael Jackson, Lionel Messi and Jimi Hendrix have previously, posthumously or otherwise, successfully claimed the right to their name.
This article was published in the Volkskrant (in Dutch) on January 29th 2023.