A Long Island couple is seeking a trademark for the slogan "Occupy Wall Street."
Robert Maresca, 44, and his wife, Diane, of West Islip, have filed to trademark the name of the movement responsible for the more than monthlong protest in lower Manhattan, and in other cities in the United States and around the world. The protests aim to call attention to what demonstrators see as vast economic inequality.
Maresca, who said he worked for Ironworkers Local 361 in Brooklyn until he was injured on the job a few years ago and is now a stay-at-home dad to the couple's three children, said in an interview he was initially opposed to the OWS demonstrations: "My initial reaction was that it was a bunch of college kids aspiring for idealism," but that it probably wouldn't amount to anything. When union members began showing up at Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan a few weeks ago, Maresca began to change his views.
Maresca, who described himself as "a financial conservative and a social liberal," ran unsuccessfully two years ago for the West Islip school board, but otherwise he has never been politically active.
Representatives of Occupy Wall Street's public relations working group, Michael Fix and Beth Bogart, said while they weren't surprised by attempts such as this one to make money off the protest, the movement is about economic justice, not a trademark opportunity. "We are not surprised, as everyone is trying to hijack or co-opt the movement," they said. "Unfortunately this is another example of taking the blood, sweat and tears of the creators . . . and exploiting them for financial gain."
Maresca said he is not trying to capitalize on the movement, but seeking to spread the word.
On Oct. 18, the Marescas filed for a trademark, paying $975 for the right to put Occupy Wall Street on T-shirts, handbags and glasses. Each category costs $325. The filing was reported earlier in the day by The Smoking Gun website.
The couple faces an uphill battle to win the trademark, said Melville patent attorney Gerald Bodner of the law firm Bodner & O'Rourke.
"Maybe nobody can get it," Bodner said. "It's already well-known. It's in use. It's become almost part of the public domain." According to the website of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, applicants must demonstrate prior to registration that they have used a trademark in commerce, or intend to.
With Sarah Crichton