Rapper Ye, formally known as Kanye West, cannot legally sell his ‘White Lives Matter’ shirts because two Black men from Arizona owns the trademark.
Ramses Ja and Quinton Ward, hosts of Phoenix, Arizona radio show, Civic Cipher, were gifted the trademark by a loyal listener last month to ensure it didn’t fall into the hands of someone wanting to profit off of hate.
The listener believed that the social-justice-oriented radio hosts would be able to use the phrase to raise money for local chapters of Black Lives Matter and NAACP, according to Capital B News.
The trademark was officially transferred to them on Oct. 28. This gives them the legal authority to sue anyone, including Kanye West, who uses the phrase for financial gain.
“The way the law works is either you’re owning phrases, or it’s up for grabs for people to make money off them,” Ja told Capital B. “This person who first procured it didn’t really love owning it, because the purpose was not necessarily to get rich off of it; the purpose was to make sure that other people didn’t get rich off of that pain.”
The United States Patents and Trademarks database does infact shows that the phrase is registered to ‘CIVIC CIPHER LLC LIMITED LIABILITY COMPANY, after it was secured on October 3.
The trademark covers “Blouses; Boxer shorts; Graphic T-shirts; Hooded sweatshirts; Jeggings, namely, pants that are partially jeans and partially leggings; Jogging suits; Ladies’ underwear; Leggings; Overcoats; Polo shirts; Shirts; Short trousers; Short-sleeved or long-sleeved t-shirts; Short-sleeved shirts; Shorts; Ski masks; Sleeveless jerseys; Small hats; Socks; Sports jackets; Sports shirts; Sweat pants; Sweat shirts; Sweat suits; Sweatpants; Sweatshirts; Sweatsocks; Sweatsuits; Tank-tops; Tee-shirts; Women’s clothing, namely, shirts, dresses, skirts, blouses.”
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, ‘White Lives Matter’ “is a neo-Nazi group that is growing into a movement as more and more white supremacist groups take up its slogans and tactics.”
West wore a shirt with the slogan during Paris Fashion Week last month with conservative commentator Candace Owens. Boxes of the shirt were later handed out to unhoused people in Los Angeles.
Ja said neither Kanye nor any member of his team have reached out to them asking about the racist slogan.