Who owns Occupy Los Angeles? We all do -- or so we thought. Apparently, a few individuals in Southern California think otherwise.
On Sunday, Sue Basko, a primarily online trademark lawyer for music and film, decided to check on the US Patent and Trademark Office database to see if anyone was trying to claim the name of her blog, "Occupy Peace." While on the database, she poked around to see what other Occupy trademarks people were going for, in addition to the already pending claims she'd heard about for "Occupy Wall Street," "We are the 99 percent," "Occupy" and the like.
Basko, who has kept a blog on Occupylosangeles.org providing legal advice to the movement since its first days, told the Huffington Post that she was shocked to find what her search turned up. As she wrote in her Occupy blog Sunday, two individuals and one business from Southern California were trying to claim the terms "Occupy Los Angeles," "Occupy LA" and, most bold of all, "Occupy" as their own.
Meet the three Southern California filers:
1) On Oct. 28, Amicus Partners, Inc., a company from Del Mar in northern San Diego County, filed for ownership of the term "Occupy" with the help of a lawyer. Amicus Partners, Inc. was doing business under the name Transmedia Agency. Basko told HuffPost that she found eight separate filings for the term "Occupy," but the San Diego company's filing, initially listed by applicant Charles Snell, is particularly bold. The business is attempting to gain control of all of the following as it pertains to "Occupy:" books, written articles, handouts, worksheets, audio and video recordings, computer and video games, DVDs, CDs, film, television, photos, on-line discussion boards, webcasts, webinars, podcasts and downloadable artwork.
2) On Nov. 4, Aaron Hawke of Monterey Park, Calif. filed a claim for the word "Occupy LA" for use on "hats, sweatshirts and t-shirts." Occupy LA clothing has already been produced and sold, and Hawke is seeking to become the only one who can do so going forward. He is filing his trademark application without a lawyer.
3) On Nov. 22, Jeffrey Henderson filed for registration of the term "Occupy Los Angeles." He did so under the category "Political action committee services," which means he would have sole control of "promoting the interests of Occupy Los Angeles in the field of politics." However, Basko wrote on her blog, "The application is NOT done correctly, and he is not using an attorney. Non-attorneys sometimes think they can file Trademark applications, but it is a very complex area of law, and they almost always get it wrong -- as this applicant did."
Amazingly (or not surprisingly?), Henderson has quite a few other matters going on in his life right now, including recent jail time, as mentioned on his Facebook page. And, as detailed on their blog "SupportClanHenderson," he and his wife, a "homebirthing, homeschooling, non vaccinating, kosher family," are in dispute with Child Protective Services to get custody of their six children back.
Basko explained that she does not think any of the claims will be successful because each will have to prove it was the first to use the term. With a quick Google search, it is clear that all of the terms are already widely used.
She continued, "You're not supposed to use trademarks to create a monopoly and stop other businesses. It looks like that's what this Amicus company is hoping to do. If that's the case, the Trademark Examiner will stop the claim right away."
But, just in case, she offered to contact the Trademark Inspector to file an objection to the claims. Initially writing about Henderson before she found the other two, she wrote on her blog, "I think this is important to let her [the Trademark Inspector] know that he is NOT acting on behalf of the group."
Basko told HuffPost that she has since received support from Occupy Los Angeles members but that she is not going to take action until a measure is officially voted on by Occupy LA's General Assembly.
She also suggested that Occupy Los Angeles, which, according to the website, was registered as an unincorporated association with the state, should file to claim their own trademarks. "That's what other unincorporated associations do, like Kiwanis, Rotary and the Republican and Democratic Party do," she added. "It's to protect your own name."
"Some of Occupy might not believe in trademarks," she said. "But I think it's a good idea to avoid the monetization of the movement from under us."
See photos from the protest that started it all: Day 1 of Occupy Los Angeles. By the Huffington Post.