On Wednesday, ex-president and current loser Donald Trump announced he is launching the Trump Media & Technology Group (TMTG), a venture supposedly valued at $US1.7 ($2) billion that will encompass everything from a hellhole social network called Truth Social to “non-woke” entertainment. Par for his track record, it looks like he’s trying to snatch up rights to various permutations of the word “Truth.”
As Mother Jones points out, filings with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office from a Florida lawyer named Holly Collins look an awful lot like they were made on behalf of TMTG. On Oct. 13, Collins filed for a trademark on “TruthSocial,” with the purposes listed as related to software, telecommunications, online user-generated content, and digital content hosting. On Oct. 14, she filed for a trademark on TMTG+, and the next day for TMTG, both listed as related to mobile applications, advertising and marketing, and on-demand content streaming.
Around the same time, Collins also filed for a number of terms that one could easily see popping up as the lingua franca of Truth Social, perhaps replacing terms like “fave” or “retweet”: on Oct. 14, she filed for trademarks on “Truthing,” “Retruth,” “Post a Truth” and “Follow the Truth.” The last of those is actually already in use. The filing for Follow the Truth is accompanied by a logo identical to promotional materials released by Trump’s media group, and which also appears as the main catchphrase on the Truth Social website.
Collins told the patent office she was filing the trademark requests on behalf of, T Media Tech LLC, which was registered in Delaware this summer and is based in Orlando, Florida. It doesn’t appear to have any online presence — unless, of course, it’s the same entity as or one of those owned by TMTG.
(Gizmodo reached out to TMTG but didn’t receive a response. We’ll update if we hear back.)
Trump is famously obsessed with branding and trademarks — it’s the reason why the Trump family name appears on far more properties than they actually own. One example, NPR reported in 2015, is a series of towers on the West Side that bear Trump’s name despite him not actually having an ownership stake in them. In the 1970s, Trump reportedly owed Chase Bank hundreds of millions of dollars over the Riverside South project (of which the towers were a part) at the same time his other real estate businesses and Atlantic City casino were struggling. Trump was forced to sell the development to investors from Hong Kong to avoid a total collapse, but the deal he struck required leaving the Trump logo on them. According to NPR, Trump owns just a handful of the 17 Trump-branded buildings in NYC.
In 2011, Trump claimed to be worth $US7 ($9) billion, of which $US3 ($4) billion he claimed was the value of his brand. At that time, Trump had filed over 200 trademark applications for everything from “Trump Class” and “Trumpnet” to “The Donald J. Trump Credit Card,” “Tour de Trump,” and (ominously) “Trump Power”. He also regularly files for trademarks to businesses that he has yet to publicly announce. So, this is a guy obsessed with snatching the rights to pretty much anything he can get his hands on.
TMTG will be listed on the NASDAQ stock exchange courtesy of a merger with another shell company, Digital World Acquisition Group, which is acting as a Special Purpose Acquisition Company (SPAC). SPACs are basically shell companies formed for the sole purpose of acquiring an unlisted company in order to fast-track it to going public. SPACs have raised over $US100 ($134) billion in recent years, largely focusing on the tech sector and in the process becoming emblematic of the speculative hype that’s rife in tech investments. Trump’s venture appears to be a little different.
As CNN noted, despite the announcement being accompanied by an investor info packet rather than the more usual disclosures of financial projections and details on the deal, shares in Digital World Acquisition Group are now skyrocketing. After closing at $US9.96 ($13) on Wednesday, it was worth up to $US131.90 ($177) a share on Friday, according to CNN.
“This is extremely unusual, especially now…Nowadays it’s rare to see a SPAC pop more than 10%,” Matt Kennedy, a senior IPO market strategist at Renaissance Capital, told CNN.
“This is clearly meme stock territory. It’s totally disconnected from fundamentals,” Kennedy added. To investors, he warned “Be prepared to lose potentially everything else. This is a stock trading purely on momentum.”
Beyond the speculative surge, TMTG and Truth Social have one accomplishment to date: likely being the death of GETTR, the MAGA social network that longtime Trump aide Jason Miller became CEO of this year. Truth Social is itself not doing so hot, as it was promptly flooded with trolls who discovered an insecure signup page that shouldn’t have been live yet. One of them registered the handle @donaldjtrump and immediately began posting a meme of a pig pooping. Developers behind the open-source codebase that Truth Social appears to be built on, Mastodon, have accused TMTG of violating the software’s licensing agreement and are demanding that the company come into compliance within 30 days or risk facing legal action.