Melbourne trust applies for trademark for ‘Charlie Hebdo’ and ‘je suis Charlie’ in Australia

Je suis Charlie has become a global symbol for free speech since last week's attacks

Je suis Charlie has become a global symbol for free speech since last week’s attacks

A Melbourne family trust has applied to trademark the phrases ‘Charlie Hebdo’ and ‘je suis Charlie’ in Australia, just a week after 12 people were killed in an attack on the offices of the French satirical magazine.

The M&G Besser Family Trust’s claim for the phrase Je Suis Charlie covers ‘electronic desktop publishing; Magazine publishing; Publishing by electronic means; Publishing of books; Publishing of printed matter’ whilst the Charlie Hebdo claim covers clothing.

Je suis Charlie became a social media phenomenon for people showing support to those murdered in the raid, and has since become an unofficial shorthand for support of free speech.

If successful the trust, which is registered to a residential street in Toorak, Melbourne, could then stop others from using the phrases, or charge a licence to do so, across clothing and electronic media.In the US attempts by individuals to trademark social trends including Occupy Wall Street, Boston Strong, I can’t breathe and Hands up don’t shoot have all failed because they do not considered identifiers for a single source or product.

A piece in Wired published the day after the Charlie Hebdo attack entitled ‘Some idiot will probably try to trademark #JeSuisCharlie. It won’t work’ explains why those other applications had failed.

An application for the phrase #illridewithyou, which trended globally after the Sydney siege in December, which was lodged by Ken Issa from Mt Kiera in NSW and covers things like bumper stickers, wristbands and badges is also still under consideration by IP Australia.

Alex Hayes


Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella newsletter now.



Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing.