Occupy Wall Street: The Trademark and Media Circus Continues


The weather may be getting colder in its birthplace, but the Occupy Wall Street movement — which today rejoiced with news that Bank of America is backpedaling on fees — is heating up as more parties want a piece of it.

The unincorporated association of organizers behind the protests filed a trademark application last week (Oct. 24), seeking an official license to use the term in periodicals and newsletters, on clothing and bags and on a website with “photographic, audio, video and prose presentations.” 

The bigger question: can a grassroots movement be branded, and who stands to win or lose? The trademark battle actually began weeks earlier, as brandchannel‘s Abe Sauer reported, with variations on the theme from “Occupy D.C. 2012” to “We are the 99%” and “I am the 99%.”[more]

Merchandising is neck-and-neck with activism as would-be entrepreneurs pony up to own a piece of a burgeoning Occupy brand awareness. Vince Ferraro of Fer-Eng Investments applied for the same Occupy Wall Street trademark purely for business, citing domain names and trademarks as “the chattel of the 21st century.” 

“We’re confident that Occupy Wall Street will be awarded the trademark simply because they are the first and the ones using their mark,” stated Samuel Cohen to CNN, as one of the attorneys handling Occupy Wall Street’s application which was filed less than hours before Ferraro’s application.

Merchandise from the Occupy movement is ubiquitous online with “entreprotesters” like Ray Agrizone who is selling t-shirts, hats and stickers with “Occupy Wall Street” at TheOccupyStore.com with 10% of sales going to the movement.  “The main thing I have with this website is a tool to give a voice to the movement. I’m not too worried about cease-and-desist letters down the line,” Agrizone told CNN.

Meanwhile, The Occupied Wall Street Journal, about to go national, launched its first four-page issue last Saturday. The volunteer-produced newspaper (co-opting the Wall Street Journal brand) was kickstarted via Kickstarter, where more than 1,6000 donors helped pay for about 50,000 copies to be printed and have raised almost $76,000 to date with the rallying cry:

“PLEASE KEEP CONTRIBUTING! We don’t have billions like FOX News nor are we bankrolled by the Koch brothers. We only have YOU! You have our tremendous gratitude, but this money will only pay for two issues. The more money we get, the more newspapers, posters, stickers and flyers we can print to get out the voice of the 99%! Please keep contributing and encouraging all your friends, family and colleagues to do likewise!”   

Meanwhile, at least one brand is trying to get a different piece of the Occupy Wall Street action, which can be followed at sites such as the Adbusters-hosted OccupyWallSt.org which is pointing to OccupyWallStreet.org and other organizing sites.

New York-based NuVo Condoms will be distributing free condoms at NYC’s Zuccotti Park on Wednesday, November 2nd. According to a press release, NuVo Condoms (which also distributes free samples to Justin Bieber and NFL quarterbacks) “will be covering Occupy Wall Street in latex so protesters can practice safe sex and stay protected!”

Over in London, meanwhile, the one-man graffiti brand that is Banksy made this recreation of a Monopoly board with a begging Uncle Pennybags to show his support for the Occupy London protest (image via):


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