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Trayvon's Mom Wants to Trademark Her Son's Name

By Andrew Chow, Esq. | Last updated on

Trayvon Martin's mother is standing her ground when it comes to the commercial use of her son's name. Sybrina Fulton wants to trademark two popular slogans that reference the unarmed teenager's killing.

Fulton filed trademark applications last week for "I am Trayvon" and "Justice for Trayvon," sayings that have appeared on T-shirts and hoodies in the wake of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin's shooting death in Florida, the Associated Press reports.

The Trayvon Martin killing has received worldwide notoriety. But his mother's trademark applications are not meant to make money off the tragedy, her lawyer told the AP.

Rather, Trayvon Martin's mother's trademark claims seek to protect her intellectual property rights for "projects that will assist other families who experience similar tragedies," her attorney said in an email to the AP.

When asked if Sybrina Fulton had any plans to profit off the trademarks, her lawyer replied, "None."

In general, a trademark can be a word, phrase, name, or symbol used on goods to set them apart from goods made by others. Any person who uses a mark on a product -- like the phrase "I am Trayvon" -- can claim common-law rights to its use.

But registering a trademark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office provides more legal protection. A registered trademark gives notice to the public that a certain mark is owned by a registrant. It also gives the trademark holder exclusive rights to use the mark nationwide.

In Sybrina Fulton's case, if her trademark applications are approved, she could try to force unauthorized clothing designers to stop using her trademarks, or take them to federal court.

Like other trademark applicants, Trayvon Martin's mother will likely have to wait at least three months to hear back from the Patent and Trademark Office about her trademark claims. It's not yet clear what kinds of "projects" Sybrina Fulton plans to use the trademarks for.

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