A Manchester-based businessman Georgios Demetriou has dropped his efforts to attain registered trademark protection names "Black Lives Matter" and "I Can't Breathe".
According to reports, the move follows threats being sent to Demetriou, and backlash occurred after filing the applications for terms linked to social movements.
The outrage against trademark applications filed by Demetriou has built up over the past few days. In a Manchester Evening News article, Demetriou claimed that he and staff at his shop have received threats since submitting the applications, while posts on social media were sharing his business address and directing anger at his personal profile. This morning, with a Change.org petition to “stop the trademark registration” passing 6,000 signatures, both applications were formally withdrawn.
As WTR exclusively reported last week, Demetriou – in the name of his business License To Thrill Ltd – originally filed the two applications at the UK Intellectual Property Office on 6 June 2020. Those applications, for the terms I CAN’T BREATHE and BLACK LIVES MATTER, were sought for various clothing and non-profit goods. The I CAN’T BREATHE application also included a disclaimer on the application which stated: “This trademark is to be used for charitable work and not for personal gain on the back of recent unfortunate events.”
According to reports, Demetriou explained that he intended to use the two trademarks for “a charity to help the inner-city kids”, with the goal of “giving something back to Manchester” after multiple decades living and working in the city. When asked about potentially needing to enforce the marks, he suggested that he may charge “a royalty” to organisations that may want to use either of the terms.
That latter suggestion sparked particular anger on social media. The terms Black Lives Matter and ‘I can’t breathe’ have become symbolic during recent protests against racial injustice and police violence sparked by the killing of George Floyd in Minnesota police custody, with a video showing Floyd pinned down for more than eight minutes and repeating the phrase ‘I can’t breathe’ as an officer knelt on his neck.