Five apply to trademark “Boston Strong”


The US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has received five applications to trademark the phrase “Boston Strong”, which has become a popular motto following bombings at the Boston Marathon on April 15.  

The phrase has been used by students selling “Boston Strong” t-shirts to raise money for The One Fund—a charity set up to help those injured in the attack—and has been trending as a Twitter hashtag.

On April 17, Massachusetts individual Kerim Senkal and Boston t-shirt company Born Into It applied to register the mark for use on clothing and accessories, followed by Emil Vicale of Connecticut, John Schmidt from Florida and Allen Dowling of Massachusetts on April 20.

On Thursday, the Boston Beer Company also announced that it has applied to register the phrase for beverages as it is planning to rename its 26.2 brew, which is the marathon’s official beer.

In a blog post explaining its decision to apply for the mark, Born Into It, which also trades under the name Chowdaheadz, said it was done “before the phrase really caught on”.

“We never intended to try to pursue it in the way that many would interpret as a ‘trademark’ and to claim some sort of exclusive use while trying to collect from others using the mark … [it] was simply done to protect us from someone else pursuing the term … and then trying to enforce it down the road on us.” The company added that it will be donating 20 percent of all product sales to The One Fund.

Anderson Duff, an associate from Wolf, Greenfield & Sacks, P.C. said there was a similar rush to file trademark applications for phrases associated the September 11 terrorist attacks in New York which killed almost 3,000 people.  

The World Trade Center Foundation secured the phrase “9/11 memorial”—now the name of a museum run by the Foundation at the site of the attack—but most applications never reached registration.

“In this case, I’d be surprised if any of the ‘Boston Strong’ applications proceed to registration because it has already become a ubiquitous slogan,” he said.

“Trademarks are supposed to serve a source indicator that points consumers to one particular source. Unless an applicant can prove consumers associate the mark with them specifically, I’d be surprised if the trademark office believes the mark could serve that function,” he added.

The USPTO’s response time varies but Duff said a decision will likely be made within four months.

This article was first published on 25 April 2013 in World IP Review

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