A British businessman has been slammed on Twitter after applying to trademark the expressions "Black Lives Matter" and "I Can't Breathe".
Georgios Demetriou is the founder of License to Thrill — which has operated the online bicycle store Ridelow in Manchester since May 2000.
Speaking to World Trademark Review last week, Demetriou said that he intends for the two trademarks to be used for "a charity to help the inner-city kids in Manchester".
My goal is to raise a lot of money and hopefully send kids from poor inner-city and ethnic backgrounds into private education. It's not just parents that are privileged who want to send their kids to private schools, it's many inner-city children who have got talent as well...
He claims that the trademarks will be for "charitable work" and not for personal gain. Both applications are for clothing and the "I Can't Breathe" trademark is specifically intended for charity wristbands.
Demetriou was immediately accused of attempting to exploit the Black Lives Matter movement.
Pav Akhtar, local councillor for Preston, brought the case to light on Monday when he tweeted about it:
What never ceases to amaze me is peoples’ capacity to exploit Black lives to make money
I mean, white Brit Demetriou trying to trademark #BlackLivesMatter so he can make Black people pay him royalties for demanding equality is peak exploitation.
Demetriou is "literally trying to profit from a Black man's death. Disgusting," another user wrote.
It is highly unlikely that the application will be accepted.
Even so, the government's Intellectual Property Office got involved, pointing out that people have the option to oppose applications.
They wrote on Twitter:
While we have a responsibility to examine the validity of applications like these under trade mark law, the consideration we give them will not be without recognition of current and historical injustices.
Demetriou says that, while he hasn't sought permission from George Floyd's family, he would 'be open' to working with them.
He told the World Trademark Review:
If I can encompass the Floyd family, such as helping his daughter, brilliant – but I don't think I'll have the power to do that as I don't think the family will be interested in me.
We don't think so either.
indy100 attempted to contact Demetriou for comment but were unsuccessful.