NEW YORK — Anti-Wall Street demonstrators are trying to trademark the phrase “Occupy Wall Street” before anyone else does.
Leaders of the protesters in lower Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park filed an application Oct. 24 to trademark the name of their movement with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, said Samuel Cohen, one of their attorneys.
“The filing was primarily a defensive move to make sure that no persons not affiliated with Occupy Wall Street were attempting to use the Occupy Wall Street name for improper purposes,” Cohen said Monday.
The application was filed by Victoria Sobel and Pete Dutro, two leaders of the movement who handle its finances. It requests use of the phrase in various forms of merchandise, including backpacks, luggage, clothing and headwear.
The group also wants to use the name in periodicals and newsletters and on a website that features educational materials related to the Occupy Wall Street movement.
The demonstrators have been using a silk-screening station in Zuccotti Park to print T-shirts that say “Occupy Wall Street,” Cohen said.
“Nearly all nonprofit organizations trademark their names,” Cohen said. “And the purpose is to avoid consumer confusion.”
To complicate matters, two other parties also have filed applications to trademark the phrase.
On the same date, Arizona-based Fer-Eng Investments LLC filed a similar application that covered merchandise but not newsletters or periodicals. And on Oct. 18, Robert and Diane Maresca, of West Islip, N.Y., filed to trademark the phrase “Occupy Wall St.”
Simply being the first party to submit a trademark application does not guarantee approval, said trademark attorney Daniel Kirshner, in East Brunswick, N.J. The party that can prove it was the first to use the phrase in commerce likely would have an edge, he said.
But simply printing T-shirts is not enough, he said.
“I get clients all the time that say, ‘I want to print a bunch of T-shirts and get a trademark registration,'” Kirshner said. “The patent office doesn’t think that’s a trademark. That’s decorating a shirt.”
—Copyright 2011 Associated Press