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Magnate Sues Tiny Firm Over Use of 'Trump Cards'

July 07, 1989|From Associated Press

ATLANTA — Real estate magnate Donald J. Trump usually enjoys seeing his name on things, but he's fighting a small Georgia company over "Trump Cards," snazzy business cards the billionaire says infringe on his name.

Positive Concepts Ltd., the Lithia Springs company that makes the cards, contends it got the name from the term used for a suit in a card game that ranks above all others. The company's lawyers say the case has escalated into a battle over the limits of money and power.

"Donald Trump simply wants to own the word 'trump,' and anybody who wants anything to do with it will have to face Donald Trump," said Atlanta attorney Kevin L. Ward. "We can't give up a word in the English language just because somebody has the power and money to do so."

But Trump's attorneys say their client's name has become so well known that consumers are going to be confused into thinking the cards are backed by the man.

Last month, Trump won a federal court order temporarily barring a company from using the name "Trump Shuttle" for a moving and storage subsidiary in New York.

Trump renamed Eastern Airlines' Washington-to-New York-to-Boston air shuttle the "Trump Shuttle" after buying it for $365 million this year.

Attorneys now are compiling depositions for the business card case, which ultimately will be considered by the federal Trademark and Patent Board in Washington.

Used by Another Firm

At issue is PCL's line of business cards, which feature a photograph of the holder. The suburban Atlanta company has been making and distributing the cards since 1982, and currently has sales of about $2 million.

Company President Edward A. Zito said he adopted the name from a California company that also made the cards under the name "Trump Cards." Zito said the California company went out of business in 1982 and never obtained a trademark.

Zito said he was unfamiliar with Donald Trump at the time. Zito does not play cards, but said he decided to stick with the trump name after looking it up in a dictionary.

PCL applied for a trademark registration in 1985, and Trump's attorneys filed a notice of opposition after the government published the request in 1988.

In a written notice, Trump's attorneys alleged that PCL chose the "Trump Cards" name to "benefit . . . from the worldwide fame, distribution and glamour of Donald J. Trump and his 'Trump' name."

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