Aug 25, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Trump's Truth Social has trademark application denied as setbacks pile up

Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) held at the Hilton Anatole on August 06, 2022 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images)
Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) held at the Hilton Anatole on August 06, 2022 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) refused Donald Trump's application for a trademark for "Truth Social," the name of his social media company earlier this month. A trademark lawyer in Washington surfaced the filing on Thursday.

Why it matters: The trademark refusal is just the latest setback for the former president's social media app and its parent company, which have been beset by a raft of issues over the past few months.

What's happening: The USPTO found two other companies who already use the Truth Social wording, which would create what's known as "likelihood of confusion" if Trump also got the mark.

  • Typically, when a company files for a trademark — the distinct brand-name it wishes to use exclusively — lawyers vet the term to make sure there's no conflicts.
  • "Ideally, you would pick a name where this wasn't going to happen," said Josh Gerben, a trademark lawyer in Washington, D.C., who tweeted the PTO filing.
  • But sometimes if a client really wants a name, the company will forge ahead, despite what the lawyers say.

This doesn't spell the end for the trademark. Trump can appeal, which trademark lawyers believe is likely. Initial refusals aren't uncommon and there are a couple moves the company can make to clear this hurdle. Axios reached out to Truth Social for comment and has not yet heard back.

The big picture: Truth Social and the SPAC looking to take its parent company public have faced enormous legal and technical challenges ever since the app was announced last October.

  • Last week, Digital World Acquisition Group (DWAC), the blank check company that plans to merge with the parent company Truth Social to take it public, looked to delay its earnings report
  • The week before it asked shareholders to approve an extension of its merger agreement by a year.
  • The Truth Social app missed its launch deadline, putting thousands of users on a waitlist for weeks.
  • The SPAC is under investigation by the SEC for possibly negotiating their deal prior to DWAC going public, which is illegal if true.
  • An investor sued the SPAC's CEO last year claiming fraud.
  • There's been confusion regarding whether or not certain members of the board are still on the board.
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