Occupy Las Vegas seeks to trademark, shirt sales to follow

What's in a name?

For some Occupy Las Vegas protesters, it's T-shirts.

The local chapter of the Occupy Wall Street movement against corporate greed and influence in politics wants to trademark its name and make a fashion statement, it seems, in the process.

An application filed Nov. 9 with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office shows the group wants to use the name for a variety of different shirts, including polos, collared shirts, T-shirts and long-sleeved shirts.

A trademark protects brand names and logos used on goods and services. The application has a $275 to $325 filing fee, according to the office's website.

It is unclear whether the shirts will be sold and whether those profits would go back into the group's funds.

Protester Mary Underwood, who has camped at the occupation site near the Thomas & Mack Center, filed the pending application for the phrase "OCCUPY Las Vegas."

Underwood, who is part of the Occupy LV group, a splinter from Occupy Las Vegas, said she was inspired to apply for the trademark by an ad in Vegas Seven magazine that depicted a cartoonish gun over the words "Occupy Vegas" to promote a video production company called Shoot to Kill Media.

"This way we can make the argument that they are harming our brand," Underwood said of potential riffs on the Occupy Las Vegas idea. "This is just a bulwark against people using the term in sketchy ways."

Underwood said she doesn't intend to restrict use of the term by people from the Occupy Las Vegas site and has plans to turn over the trademark to whatever entity develops to represent Occupy LV.

Ryen McPherson, director of operations for Shoot to Kill Media, seemed amused by the notion his ad prompted a trademark movement.

McPherson said he has run several versions of ads with the cartoon gun over a phrase inspired by current events.

"Every ad we run each week we change the little slug line," he said.

McPherson got the idea for the Occupy version during a recent trip to New York where he visited Zuccotti Park, site of the original Occupy Wall Street protests.

"It just seems a little ass backward to have a movement like that and someone steps in to try and own the name," McPherson said.

The desire to trademark the group's name appears to fall in line with what other occupiers have done throughout the country.

According to The Associated Press, demonstrators in New York applied to trademark the phrase "Occupy Wall Street" in October.

But local protester Sebring Frehner, said he has not heard any discussion about trademarking the name among Occupy Las Vegas protesters or that an application was filed.

Frehner said he saw no problem with someone trying to raise money if it goes back to the movement.

"We have a couple of guys working on merchandising, but they're still working out designs and logistics," Frehner said. "This is the splinter group, as far as I know."

At the start of November, some protesters split from the Occupy Las Vegas group and formed Occupy LV, according to a news release circulated by that group's media coordinator, Gina M. Sully.

Calls to Sully went unreturned.

Jennifer Riel, of Riel Law, which deals with trademark law, said there is no guarantee a trademark will be registered.

On average, it takes about three months for an examining attorney to go over the application and make the initial determination whether the trademark can be registered.

Riel said she recommends trademark registration for certain businesses engaging in interstate commerce.

Rolling Stone magazine reported last month that rapper Jay-Z's "Occupy All Streets" shirt was pulled from Rocawear's website in mid-November because the apparel company had no intention of donating sales profits to the Occupy Wall Street movement.

Review-Journal reporter Benjamin Spillman contributed to this report. Contact reporter Kristi Jourdan at kjourdan@reviewjournal.com or 702-455-4519.