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Supreme Court rules man can't trademark 'Trump too small'

The court ruled that the phrase could not be trademarked because of a rule that prevents trademarks of a living person's name.
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Posted at 9:59 AM, Jun 13, 2024

The Supreme Court ruled on Thursday against a man who attempted to trademark the phrase "Trump too small."

Steve Elster wanted to trademark the phrase after a 2016 Republican presidential debate. He apparently came up with the phrase when Sen. Marco Rubio criticized Trump for having what he described as small hands.

"You know what they say about men with small hands,” Rubio said in one of their debates.

Elster made apparel with the mocking comment and attempted to trademark it, but his application was rejected. The Patent and Trademark Office said Elster could not trademark the phrase because of a rule that prevents registration of names or phrases that include a living person's name.

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A lower court had ruled that preventing Elster from trademarking the phrase infringes on his free speech rights. However, the Supreme Court disagreed.

"We conclude that a tradition of restricting the trademarking of names has coexisted with the First Amendment, and the names clause fits within that tradition," Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in the court's opinion.

This case set forth an interesting dynamic as the Patent and Trademark Office, which is part of the Biden administration, defended its decision to prevent a mocking phrase of Trump from being trademarked.

Biden and Trump are likely headed for a rematch of the 2020 presidential election.