Cash from Occupy Wall Street products may soon be occupying the pockets of a couple seeking to trademark the term.
As BoingBoing pointed out earlier this week, a U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) app revealed that “Robert and Diane Maresca of Long Island, New York, are seeking to trademark the phrase ‘Occupy Wall St.” According to the certificate, the two plan too use the phrase on “a wide variety of goods, including bumper stickers, shirts, beach bags, footwear, umbrellas,” and, most appropriately, “hobo bags.”
“I’m no marketing genius, but when you got something that’s across 50 states, it’s a brand now,” Robert Maresca told CNN. Maresca and his wife filed the $975 trademark request on October 18.
“I’m the best person they could imagine buying the slogan, because no one has their interest more than myself,” said Maresca, a member of the Independent party. “This is an important slogan; somebody else might have gotten a hold of it.”
“I’m also really against corporate money distorting elections,” he went on.
In the comment section of BoingBoing’s piece, many expressed doubts that USPTO would even approve such a trademark, and pointed out that even if they do, the process can take months. It’s difficult to predict how the movement will change as the winter starts occupying the Northeast, and the flavor of the protest itself continues to evolve.
But needless to say, plenty of t-shirt designers have already started profiting from the viral movement. A site called Skreened already offers an Occupy Tee for $31.99, and Zazzle is hawking a vast range of Tees with “Occupy” and “99%” graphics, including one which says “Proud to be one of the 1%.”
And as Gawker pointed out, Atlanta man Brad Delhover has applied to trademark a more specific iteration of the “Occupy” slogan: the words “Occupy This” with an arrow pointing down, to be used on “short-sleeved or long-sleeved t-shirts.”
It’s not surprising that swarms of individuals are looking to profit from the “Occupy” movement. For every Occupier outraged that individuals are looking to trademark their slogan, there are surely thousands who are kicking themselves for not thinking of it first.
We should just hope that if the Marescas or anyone else succeeds in claiming the term and uses their success to build a massive T-shirt empire, they’ll be willing to pay a fair tax rate and, as Maresca himself claimed above, to not use their new wealth to “distort elections.” It’s not wealth itself that the movement should be protesting, but rather how wealth is used.