Our mission to help you navigate the new normal is fueled by subscribers. To enjoy unlimited access to our journalism, subscribe today.
In its latest bid to get under the skin of President Donald Trump, the campaign of Democratic hopeful Joe Biden has purchased the web domain name of Trump’s sometime re-election slogan “Keep America Great.”
This means that anyone who visits keepamericagreat.com will not encounter cheery slogans and red hat merchandise, but instead a decidedly darker message.
The site operated by the Biden campaign features a “Promises Broken” slogan, and lists a variety of issues on which the President has allegedly failed to deliver. The top of the site features the following unflattering image:
A spokesperson for the Trump campaign told Politico, which first reported the story, “You can buy all the domain names you want, but Joe Biden can’t ever buy a way out of his 47 years’ worth of failure in elected office.”
Anyone can register a web domain for a few dollars but, if the domain is already registered, the would-be purchaser must either buy it from the current owner, or hope that the owner fails to re-register when the domain expires.
Ironically, the Trump campaign applied to trademark the slogan “Keep America Great” days after the President’s inauguration, but apparently failed to take the same steps to acquire the corresponding domain name. According to Alexandra Roberts, a trademark professor at the University of New Hampshire, the campaign has yet to get final approval for the mark by using it in commerce.
Current and prospective Trademark owners are entitled to take legal action against so-called “domain squatters” in federal court, or by filing for arbitration with an international body that oversees web names.
The Trump campaign, Roberts notes, might have a legal case for “cyber-squatting.” But the process is slow, and the outcome is uncertain in cases where someone has acquired a domain name for purposes other than shaking down the trademark owner for money.
Roberts notes the Trump campaign could argue that Biden’s team had sought the mark in bad faith or to damage Trump’s brand but that, for legal purposes, the outcome would be a toss-up. But practically speaking, there is little chance the Trump campaign will be able to wrest back the “Keep America Great” site before November’s election.
In the past, the Trump family has been aggressive in pursuing and defending its intellectual property. A recent example came in July when the President’s company—which Trump purportedly keeps at arms length from his political duties—filed to register “telerally” in the context of events.
Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, owns numerous trademarks related to her fashion brands. In 2019, the government of China granted preliminary approval for five trademarks related to Ivanka Trump’s businesses—leading critics to suggest China had issued the marks as part of the larger negotiations with the U.S. over trade.
More must-read finance coverage from Fortune:
- Here’s how much tech giants are making in profit per employee
- 12 value stocks to buy right now—and 3 to avoid—according to Bank of America
- ‘Deal of a decade’: How buying TikTok could transform Microsoft
- American Airlines announces plan to cut 19,000 jobs—unless Congress extends pandemic aid
- Sacramento may pay COVID-infected workers $1000 to stay home