When life gives you lemons, the saying goes, make lemonade.
But who says you cant use someone elses lemons?
The Occupy Wall Street movement has been going on for only a little more than a month, and already people are exploring ways to make a buck off of it.
Monday morning I learned that one man has actually filed to trademark the term Occupy Wall Street. At the same time, one news report suggested that others might trademark a variation of the term, Occupy Wall St.
That abbreviated version of street apparently makes a big difference.
The man trademarking the movements name says he wants to sell it to the movement itself, but that would be difficult for a movement that emphasizes that it is leaderless. If hes going to sell it to someone within the movement, the trademark would still belong to just one person because Occupy Wall Street is not an organization that can claim ownership but, I gather, a frame of mind.
Our would-be benefactor was actually a little slow on the draw. Already the Internet is full of people who took the lemons that protesters all around the country have been complaining about and started marketing T-shirts that say Occupy Wall Street, OWS, We are the 99 percent, or just plain 99 percent, or Become the 1 percent.
You can buy T-shirts with American flags with sayings where the stars are supposed to be. You can even buy little baby outfits emblazoned with one or another of the terms. The only outfit I didnt see was a baby outfit emblazoned, Future 1 percenter.
That makes me wonder. Can someone trademark something that has already been in use by several other people for a while?
Some of the people marketing the T-shirts say that 100 percent of the profits from sales will be donated to the OWS movement. It seems to me that T-shirt maker wont be around for long, though. If you dont make a profit you dont stay in business.
Other T-shirt sellers make no such claims. They simply offer several different designs in different colors, with long and short sleeves and even hooded sweatshirts for prices that range from $17 or so, up to around $40.
Some of the T-shirt makers have already begun to mark down their products. One website had reduced the prices on its shirts from a regular $28 to $21, a 25 percent discount, though I didnt bother to check how much shipping was.
It just goes to show you, it doesnt necessarily take a quick wit to get ahead in this world, but you have to be quick on your feet. The movement is only a few weeks old and already youre a latecomer.
The funny part of all this – or the sad part, depending on your viewpoint – is that the whole OWS, 99 percent that some view as profound has been appropriated and turned into a moneymaker by the imaginative and industrious.
The idea that a phrase as simple as 99 percent or 1 percent could provide such an explosion of opportunities is amazing.
Only in America.
I love this country.