Trump’s Next Target: Counterfeit Campaign Merchandise
Policy + Politics

Trump’s Next Target: Counterfeit Campaign Merchandise

© Rick Wilking / Reuters

Republican presidential candidate and businessman Donald Trump might appreciate a hard-working entrepreneur, but apparently that doesn’t extend to businesses selling Trump-related knockoffs.

Trump’s organization is sending cease-and-desist letters to businesses that have been selling t-shirts and other gear emblazoned with his name, his image and his trademarked slogan: “Make America Great Again,” reports Robert Hennelly at CBS MoneyWatch. The Trump Organization didn’t immediately return a request for comment.

One of the letters scolded online retailer CafePress for using the site as a portal to sell Trump-related gear, although the site was down as of Tuesday afternoon. Dozens of Trump-related items were for still selling at CafePress, including buttons, bumper stickers and t-shirts, with the designers apparently unrelated to the Trump campaign or the Trump Organization.

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“You have people believing they are supporting a campaign, and they are just buying counterfeit goods," Garten told the publication. "People will say this is a free speech issue, but using Mr. Trump's trademark for your own personal profit is not protected by the First Amendment."

Trump, by the way, runs his own gear shop, selling “Make America Great Again” hoodies for $50 and “Team Trump” t-shirts for $25 each. Some of the knockoffs are just as expensive as the official merchandise if not more so, which may illustrate that Trump supporters are willing to shell out for anything with his name on it.

Aside from protecting his brand, Trump has another incentive: Purchases made through a campaign website are campaign contributions under federal law. Losing those sales to counterfeiters may not only hurt his ego but also his campaign coffers.

Trump isn’t alone among the 2016 candidates in battling knockoff gear, though. Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders is also not too happy about the proliferation of “Feel the Bern” goods, with a staffer telling CBS that knockoffs might not be union-made, which is guaranteed with Sanders’ official gear.