Best of 2012: Trayvon, we hardly knew ye

The headline:  Trayvon Martin’s family looks to trademark ‘I am Trayvon,’ ‘Justice for Trayvon’:

Trayvon Martin’s mother Sybrina Fulton is seeking to trademark [sic] phrases with her son’s name. . . .

According to applications filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office by the family’s attorney last week, Fulton wants to trademark “I am Trayvon” and “Justice for Trayvon” for use in DVDs and CDs memorializing the slain teenager.

Fulton’s trademark application could be fuel for critics who contend Martins parents—and civil rights activists like Rev. Al Sharpton—are trying to capitalize on the killing for personal or financial gain. . . . [But] Martin’s family may simply be trying to gain some control over his name, which has been cropping up on t-shirts and hoodies across the country.

So much, so wrong here.


You might think I’d get to the meat of the issue here and skip over yet another snide rehearsal of my mantra that “trademark is not a verb” — that what the reporter means here is that the family is attempting to register a trademark, and that trademarks are earned by use, not registration.  But then you could not have read my previous rants on the topic, because you would not have assimilated my thesis, to wit:  It is precisely because people (including lawyers) use the phrase “to trademark” that they can make the mistake of thinking that what is being reported here is really what you do in such a situation; that it effectuates some process of “trademarking”; or that, as the story says, you can “gain some control over [a] name” by “trademarking it.”

No.  We dealt with this when we discussed the Sarah Palin trademark thing, right?  Didn’t we broach this topic when they asked about the Occupy Wall Street trademark thing?  Remember what we learned in connection with the Martin Luther King trademark thing?

I could go on.  And maybe I’m mistaken; you can ask the lawyer who filed the applications,  Attorney Kimra Major-Morris.

But for a million reasons, the way I understand it, I AM TRAYVON, filed by his grieving Mom, is not what a trademark is.

From here, JUSTICE FOR TRAYVON, to “control his name,” is not what a trademark does.

God help Mrs. Fulton to live with the grief that is every parent’s nightmare.  Of all the facts that are in dispute with respect to the Trayvon Martin story (and there are evidently more than some people think), the fact that a mother has lost her child so brutally and so young is not one of them.  I won’t second guess Mrs. Fulton, and I really don’t even second-guess Kimra Major-Morris.  If Mrs. Fulton called her and asked her to do this, why, you do whatever a woman in that state asks you to.  I’m sure the attorney explained the full range of legal and, well, other issues to Mrs. Fulton, just as we do any time we get the call.

But there is so much, as I tweeted a few minutes ago, that is sad about this news story.  And it’s not just the sad part that’s sad.  Sad, and more.

UPDATE:  Still not getting it.

UPDATE 2013:  Notice of allowance granted in October 2012; remember, this is an intent-to-use mark, and a six-month extension of time to file a notice of use was granted in May.

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Author:Ron Coleman

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