Women's March Inc. Quietly Abandons Its Attempt To Trademark 'Women's March'

from the march-on dept

Because American politics is a hellscape, you may not recall that thousands of women marched in D.C. back in 2017 shortly after our current President was sworn in. So much has happened since then that perhaps this was pushed out of your memory banks. At the time, however, the movement sparked marches among women’s groups throughout the country, and led in part to a women’s movement around the 2018 midterms. Along the way, however, four activist organizers started Women’s March Inc. to formalize the organization of future marches. In addition to that, the group, for some reason, thought it was a good idea to try to trademark the term “Women’s March” and to issue threats to other organizers to not use the term in their names.

Women’s March Inc. first filed for a trademark in March 2017, just months after more than 3 million women gathered to protest Donald Trump’s election at hundreds of sites around the world. While most of these marches were executed independently, the D.C. organizers quickly moved to unify them under shared guidelines and branding. They began recognizing local marches as official chapters and sending letters to unaffiliated groups asking them to drop the phrase “women’s march” from their name.

At the time, [Linda] Sarsour said the intention was to “maintain a unified message and unified platform.”

There is so much dumb in this that it’s difficult to know where to begin. “Women’s March” as a phrase for a trademark itself seems like a problem, given how it’s essentially descriptive. How in the world the phrase is a valid trademark for the activist market is beyond me. When you add to that the pure cynicism of sending out notices to like-minded organizers and demanding they change their names, or the names of their events, when the entire idea behind the marches is one of unity, seems like it should be the punchline of a joke rather than something that actually happened.

Fortunately, other organizers didn’t take the whole thing laying down. Three of the organizations opposed the trademark application last summer, arguing that the mark was descriptive, already in use by other organizers, and not valid for use as a trademark. After a year long battle, it appears that Women’s March Inc. finally relented, as the organization quietly withdrew its application.

“It was expensive and time consuming but a needed victory for the people,” Women’s March Alliance president Katherine Siemionko told The Daily Beast of the suit. “The truth of who created the global Women’s March got out anyway. Four women claiming ownership for the work of hundreds who acted independently lost. Greed lost. ‘Women’s March’ is not for sale.”

Jaquie Algee, an organizer of the Women’s March Chicago, which is unaffiliated with the D.C. organization, said she was “thrilled” at the decision to drop the application.

“The women’s march—both the name and even more so the movement—was never owned by a single group of people,” Algee said in a statement. “Hundreds and thousands of women have organized, led, and marched since the very first march in 2017, and the women’s march belongs to all of us.”

Unfortunately, some amount of damage has already been done. Those that oppose these types of marches and organization often claim that they are motivated not by ideology so much as they are money-making operations built on message control. Actions such as those by Women’s March Inc. seem to bolster that argument, regardless of how true it might generally be.

Still, the end of this story is mostly a happy one. Now, women’s marches can call themselves women’s marches without having to worry about other women’s marches marching on their women’s marches.

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Comments on “Women's March Inc. Quietly Abandons Its Attempt To Trademark 'Women's March'”

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Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

What was that protest about, again?

"While most of these marches were executed independently, the D.C. organizers quickly moved to unify them under shared guidelines and branding. They began recognizing local marches as official chapters and sending letters to unaffiliated groups asking them to drop the phrase “women’s march” from their name."

The unmitigated gaul of the ‘D.C. organizers’ to try and usurp the individualistic intentions of all those other women by ‘recognizing’ official chapters (how magnanimous) and disdaining others because they would not kowtow to their ‘authority’. The cry for power and control is loud and clear. Why don’t they try running for office? That is how everyone they protest against does it.

Now don’t get me wrong. I am not against whatever it is they are protesting against, nor am I against them, but when power and control are more important to some subset of organizers than whatever their actual issues are, there is reason to suspect the intent of those organizers. And like fish, things tend to stink from the head first.

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