19 December 2014Trademarks

‘I Can’t Breathe’ trademark application filed

A US resident has filed an application to register ‘I Can’t Breathe’ as a trademark.

Catherine Crump filed a  trademark application with the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) for the phrase relating to clothing including hoodies and t-shirts.

The phrase was said to be the final one of Eric Garner who died in July after an incident with the police in Staten Island, New York. A video released online appeared to show Garner, a cigarette seller, being held round the neck by a police officer following a dialogue between the pair.

Protests across both the US and the UK were sparked after a grand jury, a legal body that decides if there should be a criminal investigation into a particular event, opted not to bring charges against the police officers involved.

The phrase developed a high profile after professional basketball player LeBron James wore a black t-shirt with ‘I Can’t Breathe’ written in white, and numerous well-known National Football League players including Reggie Bush and Johnson Bademosi both wore a similar t-shirt.

Crump did not respond immediately to a request for comment from WIPR.

The application follows a number of notable trademark applications filed at the USPTO this year. In September, the charity Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Association filed two applications relating to its online fundraising scheme, the ‘ice bucket challenge’. The charity withdrew its application shortly after a public backlash.

In May, Belize-based Seyefull Investments successfully registered the ‘MH370’ trademark. The number had become infamous after a Malaysian aeroplane, which had MH370 as its flight number, went missing on its journey from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing in March.

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More on this story

16 March 2015   The US Patent and Trademark Office has rejected two applications to register the protest slogan ‘I can’t breathe’ as a trademark, including one the agency said was intended for social media use.
5 August 2015   A US-based toy and games distributor has filed an application to register ‘Cecil the lion’ as a trademark.