It was just a matter of time before capitalism found a way to make profit off the Occupy movement. IP carbetbaggers have now begun moving in to lay claim to their piece of the revolution. A couple in Long Island, New York, has recently filed a trademark application for “OCCUPY WALL ST.” in connection with all sorts of fun retail items ranging from bumper stickers to sport bags to footwear.
A few practical trademark lessons can be learned here. First, register your trademarks or someone else will. If your organization has a trademark if doesn’t want registered by some t-shirt dealer in Long Island, be sure to file your own application first. I’m not sure exactly who would be the appropriate applicant for the OCCUPY WALL ST. trademark but I’m pretty sure it’s not this couple.
That being said, the more important lesson from this story requires me to wish good luck to these trademark applicants who have now taken on the legal obligation to enforce their OCCUPY WALL ST. trademark. If an infringer of a mark is known to the trademark owner (or should have been known through routine diligence) and is allowed to go unchallenged, the trademark owner can lose its trademark. In other words, this couple now has to start enforcing (via Cease & Desist letters, UDRP actions, trademark litigation, etc.) their OCCUPY WALL ST. trademark against the masses in Liberty Plaza and around the world. I’d love to shake hands with the lawyer who takes up that case. The obligation to protect one’s registered trademarks is a simple but valuable lesson that most self-filers don’t ever receive.