Thursday, October 27, 2011

On Wall Street, trademarks and marketing

First there was Occupy Wall Street! Then the movement spread across the country and around the world. Throughout the United States there are young people camped out near financial districts and state capitols. The message of the movement varies with the speaker. Some protesters have concrete goals and aims, others have anger.

Robert Maresco of New York was so enthralled by the movement that he filed papers with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to trademark the name "Occupy Wall St." Mr. Maresco has plans to place the phrase on bumper stickers, umbrellas, shirts and beach bags. 

Asked if his move to stake a legal claim to “Occupy Wall Street” might be seen as a crass attempt to cash in on a movement that has a harsh view of corporations and capitalism, Maresca answered, “No.” Noting that he has a “practical business side,” Maresca added that, “If I didn’t buy it and use it someone else will.”
When he first checked the USPTO database, Maresca recalled, he discovered that a Brooklyn man had filed for a trademark for “We Are The 99%.” Still, he believed that “Occupy” would prove to be “a more powerful brand.”

Is that what we have become? Are we nothing more than marketing tools? Nike and Under Armour have convinced college football teams to cast aside tradition and wear their special gear for games. The costumes provided by the companies do nothing more than make the athletes wearing them walking billboards for the companies.

We can debate all day whether college athletes should be compensated over and above their scholarships - but  this is a different issue. This is not the universities using their students to promote their "brand" and raise money for non-revenue sports. These are for-profit companies who are making money off the backs of the students wearing their game gear.

But, back to the main story.

The mainstream media has done its best to marginalize the Occupy! movement and to deflect its message that people are tired of the influence the banks and large corporations have on our government. While Mr. Maresco says that he believes corporation have too much influence in politics, his actions speak differently. He is hoping to cash in on the work and the sacrifices of the protesters. That makes him no better than those against whom the protesters raise their voices.

We have become a society that spends far too much time looking for the easiest way to make money rather than providing a good or service that the public finds useful. The social media hucksters find a willing audience of attorneys willing to do anything (and pay any amount) for the hope that someone will find their name on an internet search.

And therein may lie the root cause of the crisis.

H/T Paul Lukas (Uniwatch)

No comments: