According to a 2013 ABC News report on the 50 Most Influential Networking Tycoons, Trump Group co-founder Edmond Trump’s influence—whatever that means—is worth $96 billion dollars. Donald Trump (no relation!) didn’t even make the list. As it turns out, Edmond Trump is also a real estate developer—Donald sued him and his brother Jules in 1988 over their use of the shared family name.
The suit was filed after a magazine publisher mistakenly sent Donald a letter, welcoming him to the chain drug store industry. Eddie and Jules (“Julius,” actually) Trump had just acquired a drug-store chain called Pay ‘n Save for $360 million. “Plaintiffs have used the Trump family name for 40 to 50 years in the New York area. More recently, the Trump Organization has come to stand for respectability and success across the United States,” Donald’s complaint read, according to Crain’s New York.
“The defendants are South Africans whose recent entrance in the New York area utilizing the name ‘the Trump Group’ can only be viewed as a poorly veiled attempt at trading on the goodwill, reputation and financial credibility of the plaintiff.” Eddie and Jules’ father “Willie” was a South African tailor, the Real Deal reports. He really does resent immigrants!
However, the Trump brothers pointed to a 1976 article in Forbes magazine about how successful they were—that is, before Donald entered the public consciousness. The judge was not sympathetic to the plaintiff: “The court will concede the name ‘Trump’ is well-recognized in the New York City real estate development community, but the court does not think this is the same as being ‘unique’ or ‘distinctive.’”
Donald lost the lawsuit, but in the meantime he’d petitioned the federal Patent and Trademark Office to revoke the Trump Group’s trademark registration. It did so, in 1988. “I got the name,” Trump recently gloated to the New York Times.
“They’re also really nice guys,” he said. “I’m friends with them. They’re quality guys. They do quality developments. I see them around, sometimes at the U.S. Open tennis. Really nice guys.”
The Trump brothers—who mostly work in south Florida—have largely been magnanimous about Donald’s preposterous self-branding. “We’re very boring. We’re very different from Mr. Trump. He’s much more interesting. Go write about him,” Jules told the Real Deal in 2009. Their president of sales, Michael Goldstein, was less civil, calling Donald a “peddler.”
“The difference with Eddie and Jules is that they build their own buildings. They don’t take a label and stick it on somebody else’s product,” Goldstein said. “Donald Trump isn’t that involved in his projects. He comes down, makes three appearances, gets his commission and goes away.”
According to campaign finance reports, last May, Jules Trump gave $25,000 to the Conservative Solutions PAC, which supports Marco Rubio. Two months earlier, his wife, Stephanie, gave $27,500 to Right to Rise, which supports Jeb Bush. “We’ve engaged socially,” Jules told the Times. “It was fine.”