Imagine being told that you absolutely have to stop using one of your favorite phrases — one that you use at least several times a day in your ordinary discourse — because someone has trademarked the words and will now threaten to sue you if you persist in violating their trademark registration.
That is exactly the position that Donald Trump finds himself in today after a Canadian communications agency, Wax Partnership, joined the Florida Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists to trademark the term “fake news.”
According to an article by the government-run Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, upon registering for the trademark, the two organizations promptly sent a cease and desist letter to Donald Trump, urging him to discontinue the use of the term or face legal action.
While many may think that this story itself is “fake news™,” the CBC assures us that it is not trying to emulate The Onion and that — despite the satirical video and website that the Wax Partnership produced for the Society of Professional Journalists outlining their plans to exploit their trademark — the two organizations are deadly serious about using their pending trademark to combat President Trump’s attempts to use the phrase to discredit the free press when they publish the negative details of his corrupt actions.
Wax creative director Nick Asik told the Calgary Eyeopener that the idea originated within their agency which then pitched the concept to the Society of Professional Journalists. The Society then agreed to pursue the three-month-long process and commission the video to raise awareness of the dangers of undermining public trust in professional journalism.
“As a communications company, and as individuals who see the importance of free and independent press as part of a healthy democracy, it was an idea that we came up with ourselves,” Asik said.
While the trademark has yet to be officially approved, Asik says that the ultimate fate of their application is less important than the issues of critical thinking and media literacy that the conversation about the use of the phrase initiates.
When asked why such a campaign would originate from an agency in Alberta, Canada, Asik responded that “Fake news has to do with the internet. The internet doesn’t have borders, so fake news is a problem all over the world. People are increasingly getting their news from unreliable sources…We’re in the infancy of this phenomenon so let’s try to do something about it. Whether we’re inor , it’s a problem.”
With Donald Trump so heavily reliant on the term when he attacks the thoroughly researched journalistic reports on the corruption of his administration, he may now need to come up with a new way of discrediting the media in his tweets and speeches.
An analysis by the Society of Professional Journalists indicates that Trump has used the term over 1,200 times in his tweets or nearly once a day since the beginning of his presidency. Add in the numerous times he’s used the term at his rallies or in interviews and you realize that he’d have to censor himself several times a day to avoid violating the potential trademark.
As the actor in the video — posted for your viewing pleasure below — says: “Real fake news isn’t news at all. It’s completely made up, ignoring the very fundamentals of journalism, like facts and sources.”
Unless someone stands up to uphold the standards of what does and what does not constitute “fake news™,” then charlatans like Donald Trump can continue to try to deceive the public into thinking that their genuinely disturbing criminal actions while in office are merely the imaginary fables of is enemies seeking to remove him from his illegitimate exercise of the powers of his office.
Bravo to Wax Partnership and the Society of Professional Journalists for coming up with this ingenious scheme to prevent the false accusations of “fake news™” and for helping inform the public about that of which it truly consists through the handy tips on the fakenewstm.com website.
Take a look at the video announcing the new trademark effort below.
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Vinnie Longobardo is a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music and art.