A Brooklyn street artist has been granted a trademark for the Greek letter Pi in what could be the biggest ever legal case involving the mathematical constant. The artist, Paul Ingrisano, is claiming a trademark featuring the Greek letter to be used on t-shirts, jackets, caps, and other apparel, forcing the temporary removal of thousands of items from custom retail site Zazzle. The site sells a number of “π” themed t-shirts in its online store.
Wired was among the first to report on the trademark, which was filed with the USPTO in late January. The trademark for “π” followed by a period was registered through the artist’s company, Pi Productions Corp of New York, and is an apparent reference to his initials.
The trademarked symbol is a design Ingrisano uses on t-shirts sold at physical stores, but apparently so does California-based Zazzle from its online site, which offers customers print-on-demand clothing items that feature the letter. When the artist discovered the outlet, he and his attorney, Ronald Millet, sent the company a cease-and-desist letter to the company, insisting on the removal of the t-shirts from the online store.
In the letter, which was sent in May, the artist also requested information about the volume of profits generated from Pi-printed apparel during the time he already owned the trademark, giving Zazzle 14 days to respond. Zazzle eventually decided not to involve itself in a lawsuit and put a temporary ban on garments featuring the 3,000-year-old letter instead.
Can you think of any other widely used symbols that are registered trademarks?