Occupy Wall Street applies for trademark

@CNNMoney October 31, 2011: 12:03 PM ET

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Even anarchic movements like to have some legal protections: Occupy Wall Street's organizers have applied to trademark their movement's name.

In an application dated October 24, the unincorporated association "Occupy Wall Street" applied for the trademark to "Occupy Wall Street." The trademark application says the group would like to use the phrase on merchandise such as clothing and bags, in periodicals and newsletters, and on a website featuring "photographic, audio, video and prose presentations" about the Occupy movement.

The Occupy group has been screen-printing t-shirts and other items in Zuccotti Park, and plans to continue doing so once it has trademark protection, according to a representative.

But Occupy Wall Street is not the only entity to apply for the trademark to its name.

In an application with the same filing date, Arizona-based Fer-Eng Investments, LLC, applied for the same trademark. Fer-Eng's trademark would cover many of the same kinds of clothing ("t-shirts, sweatshirts, headwear, and jackets") and bags (backpacks, gym bags, overnight bags and "bum bags" all make the list) as would Occupy Wall Street's, but would not cover periodicals or newsletters.

Vince Ferraro of Fer-Eng Investments said he applied for the trademark as a business proposition and is not in any way affiliated with Occupy Wall Street. Information, including domain names and trademarks, "is the chattel of the 21st century," he said.

But Occupy Wall Street's lawyer said he doesn't think Ferraro will get the trademark.

"We're confident that Occupy Wall Street will be awarded the trademark simply because they are the first and the ones using their mark," said Samuel Cohen of the Law Offices of Wylie M. Stecklow, one of the attorneys handling Occupy Wall Street's application.

According to the trademark office, priority is generally given to whomever applied for the trademark first. In this case, Occupy Wall Street applied for its trademark at 3:54 p.m. and Fer-Eng Investments applied for the trademark at 6:41 p.m. the same day.

In the case of two applications filed the same day, the trademark office says the application with the lowest serial number -- meaning it was filed first -- earns the trademark, according to Steven Berk, senior supervisory attorney with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. That would give Occupy Wall Street preference: Its serial number is 281 numbers lower than Fer-Eng's.

There is also a pending trademark application for a variation on the name of the movement: "Occupy Wall St."

Robert and Diane Maresca applied for that trademark after Robert had spent several days at the protest in Zuccotti Park making t-shirts for free with a permanent marker.

"I made about 20 on the second day, and then it went up to 80 by the fifth day. And then I realized it's not very healthy to smell the fumes, so then I decided that I should get in touch with a silk-screener," Robert Maresca said.

The minimum order was 200 shirts and the couple was concerned that they might be sued if someone else obtained the trademark, so they applied for it. Robert has said he would sell it to the Occupy Wall Street group for $1 after his costs are covered.

There's also a wave of trademark applications for slogans related to the movement. Applications have been filed for the trademarks to "We are the 99%," "I am the 99%" and "Occupy D.C. 2012," among other phrases.

Merchandise with those and similar slogans is on sale all over the Internet. Self-described "entre-protester" Ray Agrizone sells t-shirts, hats and stickers emblazoned with "Occupy Wall Street" and some of the movement's mantras on his website, TheOccupyStore.com.

Agrizone says he is not concerned about a potential lawsuit because he is using his sales to give money to the cause. He says 10% of his proceeds go to Occupy Wall Street.

"The main thing I have with this website is a tool to give a voice to the movement," Agrizone said. "I'm not too worried about cease-and-desist letters down the line."

There are pages of t-shirts, posters and pins in support of the movement on Amazon (AMZN, Fortune 500), and a search of "Occupy Wall Street" on eBay (EBAY, Fortune 500) yields roughly 5,000 results.

Amid of one of the biggest activist uprisings in the U.S. in a generation, it didn't take long for people to want to own pieces of it. To top of page

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