In this line of work, sometimes nothing surprises you:

From the New York Daily News, a Long Island, N.Y. couple has recently applied for a trademark registration for (you guessed it) “OCCUPY WALL ST.”  The application was filed on October 18 as an intent-to-use (ITU) application, listing a variety of products including clothing, bags, and bumper stickers.

Depending on your outlook on things, it’s temping to be cynical (perhaps even from both “sides” of the aisle) at first, and I’ll admit that was my first reaction.  Moving beyond that reaction, though, I think that both the protesters and their critics can (at lease hopefully) agree that small business and entrepreneurship are vital to our economy.  And Robert Maresca (who appears to have filed under his wife’s name) is certainly an entrepreneur.

But I think there’s even more going on here.  Take a look at what Mr.Maresca, himself an injured ironworker and union member, told the Daily News of his idea to register the mark:

“People are calling this a crass attempt to profiteer off a social movement, but that’s not it [.] I do believe there’s a possibility it could become a global brand. I could maintain control to keep it from someone trying to undercut the 99% [.] [The trademark] “isn’t about me getting rich. If it turns into a big moneymaker, I would like some of it to go back to the group.”

Sometimes, it’s not about the money (as UK pop-singer Jessie J so catchily reminded us 156 million times or so, according to YouTube).  Sometimes it’s about principle.

Much of my non-trademark work centers on working with nonprofits.  And when nonprofit clients ask me trademark questions, I try to distinguish the sort of interests nonprofits and for-profits would have in trademark protection.  For nonprofits, there’s not such a clear “good branding equals more revenue” correlation.  For them, it’s about their message and making sure that that message is protected and not tarnished, maligned, or confused by those with conflicting values.

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