And Of Course, The Attempts To Trademark 'Je Suis Charlie' Have Begun

from the just-stop-it dept

Last week, you may have heard, the main “rallying cry” in response to the attack at satirical French magazine Charlie Hebdo was “Je Suis Charlie.” That was all over the media (social and mainstream). On Friday, Roberto Ledesma warned the world not to try to trademark the phrase, noting that it would end badly and you’d be mocked and ridiculed for doing so.

I write this post on the off chance that anyone considering filing a trademark application for JE SUIS CHARLIE ? or any future trending rallying cries ? finds it, reads it and reconsiders. Here?s why:

  • The USPTO will refuse your application.
  • You will not get your money back.
  • You may be publicly ridiculed.

So don?t even try. It?s as simple as that.

It’s a great article that goes into a lot more detail, including lots of other examples (including a few we’ve covered) about idiots trying to trademark “Occupy Wall Street,” “Boston Strong,” “Hands Up Don’t Shoot,” “I Can’t Breathe” and various other “rallying cries.” They all failed, and they just made the applicant look bad.

Applicants must also realize that there is no right to confidentiality in the information disclosed in a USPTO trademark application, including your name and address. The press may come calling. You may get trolled on social media. You will upset masses of people who feel the phrase is part of something much larger than any single person or entity?s business ambitions. They will be repulsed by your actions. I wonder how the woman who filed the I CAN?T BREATHE trademark application feels about all the negative attention she has received.

That was Saturday. On Tuesday, we get from IP Kat: BREAKING NEWS: someone wants to register ‘Je suis Charlie’ as a trademark.

This is in Benelux, so Ledesma’s legal analysis of why this will fail in the US doesn’t directly apply, but his analysis of why this is stupid and you will look bad for applying does. It still seems likely that we’ll soon see similar applications show up in the US. That’s what you get when we convince the world that every idea, thought, concept and phrase must be “owned.”

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Comments on “And Of Course, The Attempts To Trademark 'Je Suis Charlie' Have Begun”

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17 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

ha ha ha

They deserve all of the negativity they get too!

They openly reveal to all the type of douche bags they are, and therefore they deservingly reap the negativity of others.

But I am pleasantly shocked the the USPTO rejected them… I guess they just did not pay the right people or political players enough to get their way. If Disney did it… they probably would have gotten it! Well… so long as they do not pull the application after a backlash.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: ha ha ha

USPTO is less accomodating towards non-US companies. So on that account it makes sense.

I like that they are clearly labelling what they are going to use the trademark for: soap/cosmetics, clothes, many kinds of paper-articles and some strange category.

Economically milking a tragedy by cornering the merchandise market is fairly disgusting from a moral standpoint.

ltlw0lf (profile) says:

Re: Might have matched his other application

(I’m not sure if that’s grammatically correct, but it does give me the rare chance to say ‘pardon my French’ legitimately.)

That translated fine according to my four years of French in High-school, and confirmed with google French -> English translation.

French -> English translation: “I am an idiot”

That One Guy (profile) says:

Needed change

You may be publicly ridiculed.

That should be changed to will. Anyone who tries to make a quick buck off of a tragedy deserves to be ruthlessly, publicly mocked for their actions. They deserve loud and repeated scorn and ridicule for letting greed stomp flat their common sense and decency, to the point that their name is forever linked to their attempt to cash in on the suffering of others.

Ninja (profile) says:

Masnick you slimy grease ball, you were just charging for the use of that Streisand term you coined the other day! Talk about hypocrisy. /cluelesstroll

Ahem. It’s not a surprise and it’s going to happen every time there is such thing. It may be much more damning to the applicant this time given the reaction and the reach is much, much stronger and wider than usual.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: US Application for JE SUIS CHARLIE filed as well

Well, seems legit to me. After all, Steven J. Stanwyck of The Stanwyck Firm in Santa Monica is DBA “The Je Suis Charlie Trust,” and has been using the phrase in commerce since Jan. 7. His application definitely “reflects core values of charitable giving.”

Anon says:

Not necessarily about owning the phrase

Not too sure who is registering for the trademark, but in some cases like these, registering a trademark can be a good defensive tool to keep others from capitalizing on it.

It’s not that every idea, thought, concept, and phrase must be owned, but simply the fact that you want to ensure random companies are not commercializing “Je Suis Charlie”

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