Donald Trump in his baseball hat.
Photography by Matthew Busch — Getty Images
By Chris Morris
October 30, 2015

Donald Trump’s campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again,” may have cost him a bit of money. A nationally syndicated disc jockey claims the Republican presidential candidate, who says he is self-funding his campaign, just cut him a check to buy key rights to “Make America Great Again.”

Bobby Estell, better known around the country as Bobby Bones, a syndicated country music morning host, tweeted a check that appeared to be from The Trump Organization dated Oct. 26.

It all stems from the trademark rights to “Make America Great Again,” the Ronald Reagan slogan that Trump has adopted as his own. Trump owns the trademark rights for “political action committee services” – but he and his campaign never secured them for items like hats, t-shirts and other materials, all of which have become hot sellers among supporters (and for businesses not affiliated with the campaign).

Estell and an associate, Meri Barnes, noticed that and filed a trademark application for the “all purpose” rights to the phrase on Aug. 5, 2015 – meaning they would own the right to put it on everything from hats and shirts to backpacks and beach bags to key cases and dog collars.

Trump and team applied for similar rights to the phrase on Aug. 13. That was just shy of a week after Estell (aka Bones) took to Twitter and said he’d turn over the trademark rights to Trump in exchange for a $100,000 donation to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital.

Later that day, he tweeted again.

While Bones blanked out the amount in the picture Friday morning, the check was made to St. Jude’s with the description “Transfer of Trademark.” Some media outlets claimed Trump had paid the full $100,000, but this could not be independently verified.

A representative for Estell declined to comment further. Calls to the Trump campaign were not returned.

Records on the United States Patent and Trademark Office online database do not yet show Estell having transferred the rights to Trump, but there is often a delay in posting those transactions.

A fight for trademark rights to a saying that was originally coined back in 1980 might seem a bit absurd, but stranger tussles have happened over mundane words.

In 2014, King Digital Entertainment, makers of the mobile game Candy Crush Saga, attempted to trademark the word “candy”. (It abandoned those efforts soon after they became public and a storm of controversy erupted.)

Last year also saw the ALS Association attempt to trademark “ice bucket challenge.”

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