Slogans are registrable as trademarks as long as they are not merely informational or a common laudatory phrase or statement that would ordinarily be used in business or in the particular trade or industry. See Section 1209.03(s) of the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office’s Trademark Manual of Examining Procedure. Examples of such laudatory phrases or statements that would ordinarily be used in business and which have been refused registration included THE BEST BEER IN AMERICA, PROUDLY MADE IN USA & WHY PAY MORE!
Slogans are never registrable as copyrights because they contain an insufficient amount of authorship.
A copyright is a form of protection provided by the laws of the United States to the authors of “original works of authorship” that are fixed in a tangible form of expression and protects such works as literary works, computer programs, musical works, pictorial, graphic and sculptural works, motion pictures and sound recordings while a trademark would be any word, name, symbol, device, or any combination, used or intended to be used to identify and distinguish the goods or services of one seller or provider from those of others, and to indicate the source of the goods or services.
Since this is election season, or in the case of impeachment, “unelection season,” I thought I would give you some examples of campaign slogans. There’s MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN used by our current White House occupant and, according to Wikipedia, Ronald Reagan as well in his 1980 Presidential campaign. See http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Special:CiteThisPage&page=List_of_U.S._presidential_campaign_slogans&id=925841367 There’s A FRESH START FOR AMERICA used by Pete Buttigieg, OUR FUTURE IS NOW used by Tim Ryan, whose future apparently is past as is his Presidential quest, there was John Kerry’s campaign slogan, LET AMERICA BE AMERICA AGAIN, and Hillary’s many slogans, including HILLARY FOR AMERICA, FORWARD TOGETHER, STRONGER TOGETHER, FIGHTING FOR US, I’M WITH HER & LOVE TRUMPS HATE. Since a trademark or “brand” is used to distinguish the goods of one seller from those of others and to indicate the source of those goods, having six brands to identify a single product would tend to dilute the effectiveness of that brand. Compare YES WE CAN & CHANGE WE CAN BELIEVE IN used by Barack Obama in 2008.
To put politics aside, MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN was federally registered by Donald J. Trump for President, Inc. in August of 2016 for bumper stickers, placards, banners, posters, pens, pamphlets, clothing, including baby clothing, campaign buttons, political campaign services, providing online information regarding political views, online and retail stores services, political fundraising, political blogs and a political website and online social networking services in the field of politics.
Not to be outdone Mr. Buttigieg has filed an application to register A FRESH START FOR AMERICA for stationery, stickers, bumper stickers, decals, posters, printed paper rally signs, paper banners, tote bags, blankets, hats, t-shirts, tank tops, sweaters, jackets, campaign buttons, political campaign services, namely, promoting public awareness of Pete Buttigieg as a candidate for public office and online retail store services featuring political campaign goods, namely, bumper stickers, posters, stationery, decals, campaign buttons, tote bags, blankets, throws, hats, t-shirts, tank tops, sweaters, jackets
Apparently, Elizabeth Warren hasn’t included in her plans a plan to register her slogan WIN WITH WARREN with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office nor has Joe Biden filed an application to register his slogan FOR EVERYONE with that Office but Mark Zuckerberg and his wife through their Chan Zuckerberg Initiative have federally registered A FUTURE FOR EVERYONE for their philanthropic services, for financing and capital investment services, for the design and development of software and data analytics tools, and for promoting public awareness in the fields of health, medical and scientific research, computer technology, literacy, immigration reform, child welfare, sustainability, and community building by means of public advocacy; promoting the exchange of information and resources within the scientific and medical research community and the technology industry to achieve advances in the field of health, medical and scientific research, computer technology, literacy, immigration reform, child welfare, sustainability, and community building; business consulting in the field of philanthropy, charities, non-profits, donors, and operations.
Oh, and the President has a federal trademark application pending for KEEP AMERICA GREAT for the same services for which he previously registered MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN.
So, from a branding perspective, how is a political campaign different from an advertising campaign? Apparently, from a trademark perspective, it isn’t and picking a good brand identify for your political campaign much like any other product is key to marketing that product, excuse me, candidate, successfully, and, to that end, nothing beats a good protectable slogan.