Presidential hopeful Donald Trump has sicced his lawyer on the operator of the Web site StopTrump.us, which launched earlier this summer.
The site, which describes itself as a "social enterprise," raises money for by selling T-shirts emblazoned with phrases like "Donald is Dumb." It says it intends to donate a portion of the proceeds "to organizations that support democracy, immigrant rights and Latino education."
"It takes a village to STOP TRUMP, and we want to make a statement against his hate message, against his ideas and most importantly to raise awareness and share a portion of our revenue with civilian causes across the United States," the site states.
This week, Trump's attorney accused the site's operators of infringing Trump's trademark in his name and cybersquatting.
"Mr. Trump considers this to be a very serious matter and has authorized our legal team to take all necessary and appropriate actions to bring an immediate halt to your blatan and unauthorized use of his trademark," Trump Organization attorney Alan Garten writes in a letter obtained by the HuffingtonPost.
He gave the site's operator (referred to in the letter as President Entertainment) a "one-time opportunity" to resolve the matter out of court by ceasing to use Trump's name, and transferring the site's domain name to Trump.
Despite Garten's bluster, Trump has no grounds for legal action, according to law professor Eugene Volokh. "But Trump doesn’t have a case here. Political criticism of this sort -- even political criticism that’s sold for money -- isn’t covered by trademark law, even when the subject’s name is a valid trademark," he writes in The Washington Post.
Even though the case is clear-cut, a cease-and-desist letter can "frighten defendants into submission," if only because they don't want to have to hire lawyers, Volokh writes.
But, he adds, StopTrump probably doesn't have to worry about legal bills. "I’m pretty sure that the StopTrump people will get many offers of free legal help; and the lawsuit is pure publicity gold for the business."