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trademark wars

Trayvon Martin's Mother is Smart to Apply for Trademark for Her Son's Name

Posted by Abe Sauer on March 26, 2012 09:11 PM

As if there wasn't enough animosity, misinformation and outrage to go around in the Trayvon Martin case, now the dead boy's mother is moving to trademark her son's name. 

According to the Associated Press,

(A)n attorney for Martin's mother confirmed that she filed trademark applications for two slogans containing her son's name: "Justice for Trayvon" and "I Am Trayvon." The applications said the trademarks could be used for such things as DVDs and CDs. The trademark attorney, Kimra Major-Morris, said in an email that Fulton wants to protect intellectual property rights for "projects that will assist other families who experience similar tragedies." Asked if Fulton had any profit motive, the attorney replied: "None."

Some might argue that the trademark applications have nothing to do with innocence, guilt, or the character of the grieving family; this is just how things are done in America now and those looking for ulterior motives probably understand outrage more than trademark law.

The Trayvon Martin tragedy, about an unarmed teen shot and killed by a Florida gated community watch volunteer last month, has become the rallying cry for a nation against everything from racial profiling to "stand your ground" justified shooting laws.

As a national sensation, Trayvon's name has been co-opted by all manner of opportunist, from the social to the commercial. Already, eBay is flooded with merchandise bearing the "I am Trayvon" and "Justice for Trayvon" marks for which the dead youth's mother, Sybrina Fulton, filed patents. A few examples:

And a nice use of Skittles, the brand that's become the calling card for the protesters.

And yes, Travyonmartin.com is already registered. The domain was scooped up privately by proxy registration on March 16. JusticeForTrayvon.com was grabbed on March 21 by one Charles Wiley of Miami Gardens, FL. Oddly enough, IamTrayvon.com is an active NSFW page of strip club reviews.

Of course, for those looking to discredit the teen's parents and frame them as cynical about their grief, the trademark filing was a windfall. Right wing blog Gateway Pundit reported on the filing, adding, "It’s part of the mourning process. (Read the comments at your own peril.) Another, Weasel Zippers posted the story along with the comment, "I can’t get the “cha-ching” sound of a cash register out of my head."

Such comments reflect a complete ignorance of how brands and commerce work in the modern world. The trademark applications by Travon's mother were filed by Kimra Major-Jones, an Orlando attorney who specializes in, yes, trademark and copyright law. It is almost certain that with the attention the Martin family is getting, filing for trademark protections is just another bit of advice from counsel. In fact, one could even argue that an attorney who did not advise a trademark filing would be neglectful of his or her job.

Not long ago, Occupy Wall Street also met with derision after the movement tried to trademark its name to protect the mark. In fact, if there is a recent case of attempted trademarking that deserves scorn, it is Disney's attempt to trademark "Seal Team 6" after the Navy commandoes killed Osama Bin Laden.

By the way, for those interested in why Martin's mother filed to trademark "I am Trayvon" and "Justice for Trayvon" but not "Trayvon Martin," it's because trademark law does not allow for trademarking of personal names unless that name is proved to have acquired an additional meaning.

What Trayvon Martin's family is doing is just sound name protection, and an anguished mother's move to protect her son ... at least his memory and reputation.


Lockmonger United States says:

She's doing it to protect her son's name. So am I to understand that she will not be making any money from his Trademarked name?

March 27, 2012 01:17 AM #

A Sauer United States says:

Well, that's an unknown. But trademark law doesn't allow to apply for non-profit trademarks and commercial trademarks, so....

March 27, 2012 10:07 AM #

david United States says:

filing for trademark protections is just another bit of advice from counsel. In fact, one could even argue that an attorney who did not advise a trademark filing would be neglectful of his or her job.

March 27, 2012 03:40 AM #

PANTHER United States says:

No  Lockmonger - you are not to understand that she wont make money.  Legal representation costs money.  And the family is having to spend money to get justice that should be free to all Americans.

March 27, 2012 08:37 AM #

Lockmonger United States says:

Then wouldnt it make more sense for the Black Panthers to offer $10,000 to help pay for the legal fees, rather than a bounty on Zimmerman that is only going to incite vigilante justice?

March 27, 2012 11:07 AM #

Jarek Ireland says:

It is normal proceedure to put trademark on sons dead ? It must be in US, here in Europe you just grieve after your son, and the last thing you think about is trademarks and law suits !!!

March 27, 2012 09:13 AM #

James Zito United States says:

This is unbelievable.  What if the shooter did the same thing?

March 27, 2012 09:35 AM #

Keith Dogwood United States says:

Question: So if the facts of the case point to another conclusion, say that Zimmerman was acting in self defense, was beaten by Martin prior to the shooting, what will the responses be? What if Zimmerman was a black man and Martin was Hispanic? Would this be a news item? Would the President and others rush to add their comments?

Just wondering?

Trademarking the death of a child is, to me, beyond the pale...

March 27, 2012 11:41 AM #

A Sauer United States says:

Well, again, this is a move that puts one in a place to protect something from use as much as profit. Like economics, the law is a dismal field and this is a common move. In 2007 the US Justice Dept. moved to TM "Amber Alert," a term derived from the murder of a 9 year old. But their TM was to protect the term from being diluted.  

March 27, 2012 12:31 PM #

Keith Dogwood United States says:

I guess lawyers and morality are exclusive. But that's nothing new... just read Shakespeare.

March 27, 2012 12:43 PM #

ant United States says:

oh like really now??? do you really think they are not doing it for the money? don't be so friigin naive people cmon man wake the hell up!!!

March 27, 2012 07:00 PM #

Abhorgir United States says:

there seems sadly people profitting off of Trayvon already. which i find is more disgraceful. at least if the family should profit it would help with some expense for their legal battle.and that is a very small chance since the window for such tragedies is small and fleeting but what it does is to allow Trayvon family to keep others from legally profitting from it in the very least. so no in context i do not have a problem with it. in the context to help raise funds for materials to provide relief for other families or to highlight a national problem no i don't have a problem with it. but as i said these tragedies tend to be fleeting in the mind of the public and since very strong evidence is being sealed before a Florida grand jury at this moment I suspect Mr. Zimmerman will be in court soon pleading to a deal to spare him the death penalty.

March 28, 2012 11:49 PM #

pan card application form Saudi Arabia says:

This is nice. Really love to read that article. Thanks for this ..

April 2, 2012 05:55 AM #

Comments are closed

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