Supreme Court rejects Californian’s attempt to trademark Trump T-shirts

The Supreme Court on Thursday rejected a California lawyer’s request to trademark the phrase “Trump Too Small” for exclusive use on T-shirts.

The justices said trademark law prohibits the use of the name of a living person, including former President Trump.

The vote was 9-0.

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Trump was not involved the case of Vidal versus Elsterbut in the past he has objected when businesses and others have attempted to use his name.

Concord, Calif. attorney Steve Elster said he was amused in 2016 when Republican presidential candidates traded comments about the size of Trump’s hands during a debate. The senator from Florida. Marco Rubio, who Trump had mocked as “Little Marco,” asked Trump to raise his hands, which he did. “You know what they say about guys with small hands,” Rubio said.

After Trump won the election, Elster decided to sell T-shirts with the phrase “Trump too small”, which he said was intended to criticize Trump’s lack of achievements on civil rights, environment and other questions.

Legally, he was free to do so, but the U.S. Patent and Copyright Office rejected his application to trademark that phrase for his exclusive use.

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When he appealed the denial, he won a ruling from a federal appeals court that his slogan “Trump too small” was political commentary protected by the 1st Amendment.

Biden administration Attorney General Elizabeth Prelogar appealed and urged the Supreme Court to reject the trademark application.

She acknowledged that Elster had the right to speak freely to mock the former president, but argued that he did not have the right to “assert property rights on behalf of others.”

“For more than 75 years, Congress has directed the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to refuse registration of marks using the name of a living person without their written consent,” she said.

Writing for the court, Justice Clarence Thomas said Thursday: “Elster contends that this ban violates his 1st Amendment right to free speech. We find that this is not the case.”

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This story was originally published in Los Angeles Times.

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