Brands Grapple for “Boston Strong” Trademark as Donations Stream In


Two days after the Boston Marathon bombing, while the police were still trying to track down the perpetrators and the public was still reeling from the first major act of terrorism on American soil since 9/11, two companies were filing trademark applications for “Boston Strong.”

Custom T-shirt company Born Into It of Woburn, Mass., and an individual, Kerim Senkal, of Allston, Mass. both aimed to use “Boston Strong” on apparel and accessories, The Huffington Post reports.

Another related trademark application came from Boston Beer Co., the maker of Samuel Adams, which brews up an annual 26.2 Brew for the Marathon each year. The plan would be to rename the beer Boston Strong 26.2 with the idea that it would help raise money for victims of the tragedy, the Boston Globe reports. The company claims that it would allow other beverages to use the trademark as long as 100 percent of the money made all went to related charities.[more]

Of course, the efforts of the original  two applicants may be moot since so many related T-shirts are flying off of shelves. While Nike pulled its “Boston Massacre” T-shirts intended for Yankees fans out of stores, Adidas, which was a sponsor of the Marathon, cranked out “Boston Stands as One” shirts and has pulled in more than $1 million to help victims. Adidas isn’t alone, the Globe notes, with numerous companies, retailers, sports teams and individuals creating products that are creating revenue to help victims.

The founders of custom apparel startup SOsponsored were personally inspired when one of them had the windows of the Starbucks she was in blown out from the bombing at the race while the other knew two brothers who both lost legs in the attack. They have since sold 1,500 shirts and 500 stickers and raised more than $38,000 for the One Fund. 

The One Fund, which was started by Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino to help victims, has been the main recipient of funds from those selling Boston-related gear since the attack. Sports apparel company ’47 Brand created a “B Strong” cap that uses the well-known ‘B’ from the Red Sox franchise. The cap has brought in $300,000 for the Fund, the Globe reports.

Not all of the cash is going to charity, of course. Online retailer Chowdaheadz, which is run by the same guy who runs Born Into It, Ryan Gormady, sells a shirt that says, “There’s strong and then there’s Boston Strong.” The site says it will donate 20 percent of total online sales in the second half of April (about $30,000) to the One Fund. But as the Globe notes, the company “got into hot water with customers after it filed a notice for the phrase ‘Boston Strong’ with the Patent and Trademark Office.”

Gormady told The Huffington Post that he filed it just to be sure that nobody outside of Boston tried to snag it. “It’s more to indemnify and protect ourselves and our colleagues and partners.”

As Time notes, though, grabbing at the trademark probably makes no difference. “‘Boston Strong’ cannot function as a trademark,” Josh Gerben, a Washington D.C., trademark attorney said, noting that the term was firmly in the public domain.

Looks like they may have wasted the $325 application fee.