Women March . . . And Also Oppose

What do you call it when a group of women get together to protest and advocate? A women’s march?

That’s the big question before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board.

After the 2016 presidential election in the United States, women began organizing protests. Two of those groups filed to register the trademark WOMEN’S MARCH:

  • Women’s March, Inc. in Brooklyn (WMI) filed first in March 2017.[1]
  • Women’s March Los Angeles Foundation filed two applications in April 2018.[2]

The Trademark Office examiner approved the WMI applications. After an application is approved by the Trademark Office, it’s “published for opposition.” That means anyone who thinks the trademark shouldn’t be registered can oppose the application.

And oppose they did. Fourteen different organizations expressed an interest in opposing the WMI applications.[3] Of those, four actually opposed:

  • We March On Chicago
  • March On
  • Women’s March Alliance
  • Women’s March Los Angeles Foundation

The oppositions all say the same thing: Lots of people started using this phrase right after the election so it doesn’t refer to one specific group. Here’s how you say that in legalese:

  • WOMEN’S MARCH is “merely descriptive.”
  • It fails to function as a trademark.
  • It was independently adopted by numerous grassroots organizers so it’s incapable of distinguishing one group from another.

What do you think? Before you read this, did you think there was only one organization using WOMEN’S MARCH? Now that you know there are a bunch of different groups, do you think just one of them should be allowed to prevent the others from using that phrase?

 

 

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[1] Both WMI applications were filed on March 1, 2017. The first one is for WOMEN’S MARCH based on use dating back to November 2016. The second one is for WM WOMEN’S MARCH and is based on intent-to-use. Both include these goods and services:

“T-shirts; shirts; sweatshirts; hoodies; one-piece infant wear.”

“Promoting public awareness of the need for protecting women’s social, economic and political rights; promoting public awareness of the need for racial equality, LGBTQ rights, economic and reproductive rights; public advocacy to promote awareness of the need for protecting women’s social, economic and political rights; lobbying services, namely, promoting the interests of women in the fields of legislation and regulation concerning reproductive rights, equal pay, paid family leave, and to the end of violence against women.”

[2]WMLA filed its applications on April 12, 2018 and both were based on use dating back to November 2016. Both of the WMLA applications are on hold until the WMI applications either go away or reach registration.

The first WMLA application is for: “Educational services, namely, conducting conferences and workshops in the field of civic engagement and community initiatives; Providing a website featuring non-downloadable publications in the nature of photos in the field of community cultural events; Providing information regarding current and cultural events via a website; Organizing community cultural events; Providing information and news regarding community outreach services.”

The second WMLA application is for: “Providing a website featuring information about social justice, human rights, and political issues; Providing information regarding political issues, knowing how to vote, and knowing how to register to vote; Promoting public awareness of the uniqueness and diversity of humanity through a national annual day event; Promoting public awareness of LGBTQIA rights; Promoting public awareness of police brutality, gender and racial inequities within the criminal justice system; Public advocacy to promote awareness of gender, racial, social, and economic justice; Public advocacy to promote awareness of the need to protect women’s social, economic and political rights; Online retail store services in the field of clothing, books, and buttons; Retail store services in the field of clothing, books, and buttons.”

[3] Women’s March DC; March Forward Massachusetts Educational Fund; Women’s March Alliance; Women’s March Los Angeles Foundation; Women’s March SLO; Women’s March Contra Costa, Inc.; March On; Santa Cruz Women’s March; March On Arkansas; We March On Chicago NFP dba Women’s March Chicago NFP; March On Hudson Valley; March on Maryland, Inc.; Women’s March San Diego, Inc.; and Women’s March Colorado.

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