Businessman files some trademarks with the expressions “Black lives matter” and “I can’t breathe” of George Floyd. The British Trademark Office stops him thanks to hundreds of tweets

George Floyd and other racism stories

In Minneapolis (United States) on May 25 2020, the forty six years old African American George Floyd dies during a control by some white policemen just for buying cigarettes with fake money in a shop. The images of George Floyd’s arrest and asphyxiation are unforgettable and his death spreads a wave of protests around the world.

The murales, dedicated to George Floyd, is by the Roman street artist Harry Greb

Is the first time a group of white policemen beat a black person to death for a little crime? Unfortunately not and there are many stories in which the police abused his power to kill innocent people like George Floyd.

For example Mike Brown, the eighteen years old killed in Ferguson (Missouri) in 2014 by a white policeman; also in 2014 the forty three year old Eric Garner who, while he was illegally selling cigarettes in Staten Island (New York), was stopped by a policeman who threw him to the ground putting pressure on his neck and, just like Floyd, died shortly after; or Freddie Gray, twenty five years, who in 2015, after being arrested and forced into a police van in Baltimore (Maryland), died a week later of spinal injuries. For Mike Brown and Eric Garner no justice was done because the cops have never been incriminated.

These are just a few names on a long list of African Americans killed by white policemen and, to name one more, the George Floyd story recalls the story of the twenty one year old Italian Willy Monteiro Duarte native of Cape Verde (Africa), victim of the brutal beating in Colleferro (Rome) on 5 September 2020 by the Bianchi brothers.

Vanity Fair dedicates its 23 September 2020 cover to Willy Monteiro Duarte choosing the street artist OZMO murales

The businessman trademarks and the British Trademark Office

George Floyd today is the a symbol of racism against blacks and his sentence pronounced a few moments before his death “I can’t breathe” became so famous that, between 5 and 6 June 2020, Georgios Demetriou, a fifty seven years old businessman from Manchester (United Kingdom), filed four trademarks in order to offer charity services with the George Floyd famous sentence. For his trademarks Georgios Demetriou used also another expression, the one that in these years is repeated in all the protests in the world against racism, that is “Black lives matter”.

The “Black lives matter” protest. Milan, 7 June 2020

A good initiative but later it came out that the businessman filed the trademarks with the hidden intention of charging royalties if someone had used one of the two famous expressions. The insults and comments of contempt spread out on social media.

What on earth did Georgios Demetriou? Take advantage of the anti-racism movement and a sentence said by a person on the point of death? While all this was going on, the British Trademark Office was busy drinking tea with biscuits. Fortunately, after hundreds of tweets that condemned the businessman initiative, Georgios Demetriou, on June 17, was forced to gave up his trademark applications. How did the British Trademark Office got out from troubles? They assured everyone by confirming that the businessman trademark applications were still the subject of scrutiny and that, guess what, any comments on the matter were welcome.

Georgios Demetriou and his followers

Georgios Demetriou was not the only one to have registered these expressions as a trademark and today in fact, in Europe, about twenty trademark applications are pending for “Black lives matter” and about a dozen trademarks have as their object the expression “I can’t breathe”.

To see these trademark applications removed, should we wait somebody gives them up – as Georgios Demetriou  did – or will the European Trademark Offices decide to act first? We’ll see.

Meanwhile the US Trademark Office between 2015 and 2016 rejected about thirty applications concerning the expression “Black lives matter” because, as they stated, it pushes the consumer to buy the product not for a company but for a specific ideology and so is not suitable to perform the distinctive and entrepreneurial function typical of a brand.

* Credits to Lara Nokodian (for the cover image)


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