Kanye West can't sell White Lives Matter shirts because two black radio hosts own the trademark

Originally published at: Kanye West can't sell White Lives Matter shirts because two black radio hosts own the trademark | Boing Boing




Or, they can transfer the trademark to the nonprofit you want to benefit and let them do the Dance of The Lawyers.


Yeah. Let them go to https://blacklivesmatter.com/ to buy that shirt.


Steve Harvey Reaction GIF


There actually is no “BLM” entity that could handle it. NAACP? Loaded with lawyers and able to licence specific uses. Some of which might be bitingly sarcastic.

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I posted an actual link to an actual website, operated by the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation.

They even have a merch section: https://store.blacklivesmatter.com/store/

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Thank you for the correction.


This warms my heart.


The content of the article isn’t really gibing with the data in the USPTO. The mark was first filed on 10/3/22, which seems like it means it was filed in response to Kanye’s show. My first thought was that maybe it had been used in commerce before then, which would mean it had common law state trademark rights, but not only is there no “first use in commerce,” this is an Intent to Use application, meaning it’s not currently being used in commerce (under the Basis Information tab).

I am once again begging journalists to check the easily accessible public information before reporting on any trademark issues.


looks like they’ve corrected the article and added a note at the end disclosing the correction


The correction is wrong in saying that it was “procured” last month. It was applied for last month, and it hasn’t even begun the examination process. Based on what I’m seeing, there’s a good chance that it won’t be granted. From the article:

“The listener procured ownership of the phrase early last month to ensure it didn’t fall into the wrong hands, and offered to transfer the trademark to Ja and Ward in September. It officially entered their possession on Oct. 28, giving them sole ownership over the phrase and the ability to sue anyone who uses the saying for financial gain.”

Putting aside the multiple factual inaccuracies (he did not “procure ownership” and it would have been impossible to assign it to them in September, the mark is only for certain goods and not any “financial gain”), trademark squatting is forbidden. Beyond all this, Kanye was using it in commerce before this was filed, meaning he would have common law state trademark rights at least in California. I assume countless other dipshits are using it in commerce across the country. If the mark manages to make it to publication, I can’t imagine it will survive an opposition.



Well, it’s not as exciting as it sounds to to say they own it. They have applied to register the trademark based on their intention to use the trademark. It’s a placeholder essentially. There can’t be any trademark without the trade of goods. The application was just filed in October and it will take about 8 months before the USPTO reviews it. It’s easily possible it will be refused registration or the owners will never actually be able to prove they have a trademark to gain registration.

Just as interesting is there have been two other applications for the same mark and they were both refused registration by the USPTO because the mark was argued to be a slogan.

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In this case, I can’t tell if you are suggesting we should prioritize real action over amusing but meaningless stunts, or we should prioritize having the laugh over the buzzkill of the fact that the story is basically BS.

I’m good either way. I sure need a laugh.

ETA: I’m guessing there’s a third option, but my brain is mush and I don’t see it.

On the one hand, neither the radio show hosts nor the people who wrote up the story seem to have a very deep understanding of how intellectual property laws work. On the other hand Kanye West doesn’t either. So if nothing else this will probably cause annoyance and consternation to a truly awful person, and for that I am glad.


Wasn’t there an urban myth a few years ago that Beyonce and Jay-Z were going to buy the copyright on the Confederate flag or something like that? Would never hold up in court, but would be pretty cool if it did. Imagine if every time someone bought a Condfederate flag in this country, Beyonce put a dollar in a fund to send a black girl to medical school or something like that.

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