Tag Archives: Charlie Hebdo

Commentary: Trademarking Tragedy

By Carl Eppler

It may not seem intuitive to connect intellectual property rights with a human tragedy, but indeed, the two intersect more often than we realize. This is likely not the proper forum to opine on the propriety of such an intersection, or the motives of those who mine its connections, but it is a topic ripe for discussion because it is so common in today’s world.

In the wake of the Paris Charlie Hebdo massacre on January 7, 2015, people from around the world began showing their solidarity with the victims under the hashtag “#jesuischarlie.” “Je Suis Charlie!” also became a rallying cry for the multiple demonstrations that followed the attack. Forty-eight hours later, someone in the U.S. filed a trademark application for “Je Suis Charlie.” You can check out the filing for yourself.

On its face, the filing appears legitimate — the applicant, the Je Suis Charlie Trust, is seeking to trademark the phrase for “[p]romoting charitable giving that reflects the core values of the donor by providing a method to identify the donor’s core values and to select charities that foster those values.” The application claims the first use of the mark in commerce was “at least as early” as the day of the attacks, though it is unclear how Continue reading