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"Occupy Wall Street" Spurs Trademark Filings

By Wendy Marsh

While the "Occupy Wall Street" demonstrations have been dubbed a "revolution" by sympathizers, they have also seemed to spark a revolution of trademark applications filings in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).  The filers have seen the potential for profit by selling T-shirts, coffee mugs, various other merchandise emblazoned with one or more catch-phrases made popular during the protests, including "Occupy Wall Street," "Occupy the Vote 2012," and "We are the 99%."  The USPTO filings include over 15 trademark applications filed just within the past month that include the term "Occupy." 

The USPTO now has the challenge of sorting through the flood of applications to determine who (if anyone) is entitled to the ownership rights in these slogans.  When the USPTO is confronted with numerous applications for the same mark, it normally awards the trademark rights to the person or entity that was the first to file.  The USPTO, however, will also have to take into consideration other issues, including whether the mark was already in widespread use prior to the filing and whether the filer is actually using the name as a "trademark".  As it typically takes about three to six months for the USPTO to perform its initial review and examination of a particular trademark application it will be some time before the issues relating to these applications are sorted out and determined.



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