Careful, trademark infringement lawsuits may be coming. Even though HBO has already warned President Donald Trump to stop using Game of Thrones imagery to stoke fear and hate, he’s doubling down by turning his November 2018 meme poster into a real, tangible item. Accomplishing, well, who even knows at this point.
Several news outlets have reported spotting Trump’s “Sanctions Are Coming” poster during today’s cabinet meeting, which largely focused on border security and the current government shutdown. It wasn’t part of a presentation or a specific message. It was just...sitting there. A terribly unfurled poster (which still reads “November 4”) that’s probably been in some broom closet until Trump randomly decided it should have the place of honor at a government meeting.
In a response to io9, HBO said it had no new comment and directed us back to its original statement: “We were not aware of this messaging and would prefer our trademark not be misappropriated for political purposes.”
The poster was originally shared on Twitter ahead of the 2018 midterm elections—an election which proved particularly bad for Trump and the Republican Party, as voters overwhelmingly supported Democrats and flipped the House of Representatives. After Trump shared the poster, HBO responded with a tweet that said “How do you say trademark misuse in Dothraki?” and released a statement saying the network would prefer he not use Game of Thrones imagery for his political messaging.
Despite the electoral loss and negative response from HBO, Trump has apparently decided not to abandon his Game of Thrones idea. Although, to be honest, it’s hard to tell what purpose it’s even serving now. The sanctions against Iran, which were supposedly what the poster was referring to when it first came out on Twitter, were reinstated in November 2018. Plus, as previously mentioned, the focus of the meeting was about border security, not pending sanctions (he did discuss meeting with his generals about Iran, saying it was “like from a [Tom Cruise] movie,” but no sanctions were announced). If there are future sanctions on the horizon, they only exist behind closed doors... or in Trump’s mind.
Unless...the poster is a vague reference to his border wall proposition, which has been at the heart of the latest government shutdown. I mean, it’s possible, technically—the show does have a wall. But really, there’s no need to vaguely threaten winter horrors from a government building; the latest White House holiday decor already took care of that.
Updated with HBO’s response.
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