Nov 5, 2018

President Trump causes IP infringement stir... again

It was only 3 days ago we were reporting on the story of President Trump's use of Pharrell's song, Happy, and the criticism he was met with, not only from an intellectual property perspective but from the untimely use of the song, only hours after the Pittsburgh mass shooting. The full article can be read here.

This week, President Trump has come under fire again for misappropriating intellectual property. The stir was caused last Friday after President Trump released a meme on twitter. The meme depicted the US leader on a grey background with the words, 'Sanctions are Coming', across the front. What has disgruntled the public about the meme is the fact that, not only has the Game of Thrones type face been replicated but, the phrase 'Sanctions are Coming' has clearly been based on the well-known 'Winter is Coming' tag line used throughout the Game of Thrones series.

HBO, the American cable and satellite network and producer of Game of Thrones, responded to the US leader's tweet advising that it would prefer its trade marks to not be misappropriated. HBO also announced that they were unaware that the US leader was going to release the tweet. Despite this, HBO did not appear to be too upset over the use of its trade mark after they light-heartedly tweeted, "How do you say trade mark misuse in Dothraki?" (Dothraki being the fictional language used in the Game of Thrones adaptation).

Even more surprising than the US leaders blatant use of the Game of Thrones typeface and tagline was the meaning behind the meme. After the meme was released the White House announced that the sanctions referred to were those that had been relaxed on Iran as part of a nuclear deal made during the Obama administration.

The use of a meme to announce a serious foreign policy topic was, understandably, seen by many as completely inappropriate. In true twitter style, it didn't take long for users to respond with an onslaught of their own memes mocking the US leader.

If you have any questions on the above, please do not hesitate to contact the team at McDaniel & Co. on 0191 281 4000 or

in: News, Trade Marks

Share this page