US judge spares Donald Trump from having to testify in trademark spat

Mr Donald Trump speaking at Stevens High School in Claremont, New Hampshire on Jan 5, 2016.
Mr Donald Trump speaking at Stevens High School in Claremont, New Hampshire on Jan 5, 2016.PHOTO: AFP

NEW YORK (REUTERS) - Mr Donald Trump can stay on the campaign trail and will not have to testify in a trademark dispute with an Internet marketing company, which a United States judge on Wednesday (Jan 6) said was trying to "harass" the Republican presidential candidate.

The marketing firm, Trump Your Competition Inc, had sought to enforce a subpoena for Mr Trump's testimony after he challenged its trademark application in 2014. Among other things, the company wants to inquire about other cases involving the billionaire developer.

But US District Judge Alvin Hellerstein in Manhattan rejected the company's application, saying Mr Trump had no unique knowledge compared to others at his company, The Trump Organization LLC, that would require his testimony.

"I see no point in the deposition other than to harass him during a presidential campaign," Judge Hellerstein said.

Trump Your Competition has said it initially registered its name with the US Patent and Trademark Office in 2005 with no opposition from Mr Trump.

But after an oversight forced the company to reapply for trademark registration, Mr Trump personally objected, according to court papers the company filed in federal court on Dec 10.

Trump Your Competition subsequently in November served the Republican presidential primary front runner a subpoena to sit for a deposition.

But Mr Trump refused to testify, with a lawyer citing among other things his status as a "high-profile, high-level executive of the Trump Organization".

Mr Trump's lawyers had instead offered the testimony of his son Eric, an executive at the Trump Organization, in addition to a prior deposition of the company's general counsel.

But in court, Trump Your Competition's lawyer Netra Sreeprakash said requiring Mr Trump himself to testify would allow her client to flesh out theories about the tycoon's involvement in other proceedings.

"Only Mr Trump can testify as to those matters," she said.