Meet the Two Black Men, Social Justice Advocates, Who Own the Trademark for White Lives Matter

Meet the Two Black Men, Social Justice Advocates, Who Own the Trademark for White Lives Matter

The phrase “White Lives Matter” gained popularity after Grammy-winning artist Kanye West wore a  hoodie with the slogan at his Paris fashion show.

However, West will not be able to profit from the phrase, because the trademark is owned by two Black men.

Rolling Stone reports “White Lives Matter” is trademarked by Ramses Ja and Quinton Ward, the hosts of Civic Cypher, an Arizona-based radio show that focuses on racial justice. However, Black Enterprise checked and the trademark application was filed in October but it could be years before it’s finalized.

Also it’s important to note that you can claim a trademark and it doesn’t have to necessary be applied for under federal protection.

According to Cornell Law: “Although registration is not a prerequisite to federal trademark protection, registered marks enjoy significant advantages over unregistered marks including: registration serves as nationwide constructive notice of ownership and use of the mark under 15 U.S.C. § 1072; and a registered mark may achieve incontestable status after five years of continuous use under 15 U.S.C. § 1065, which enhances the owner’s rights by eliminating a number of defenses to claims of infringement.”

The radio hosts recently told Capital B that the person who originally acquired the trademark in 2020 did so so it wouldn’t fall into the wrong hands. Earlier this month, he handed the trademark over to the two men.

Civic Cypher LLC is a company owned by Ramses King aka Ramses Ja. 

“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, who co-hosts Civic Cipher with Ward, 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.”

Ja added that if he and Ward sold the trademark, the fund would go towards helping Black civil rights organizations, instead of their pockets.

“If we were to sell that trademark, for whatever amount of money, we could donate that money to causes that we feel would benefit Black people, like the NAACP or Black Lives Matter organizations,” Ja told Capital B.

“Because, realistically, we cannot stop the shirts from being made right now. We can write cease to people selling these shirts right now, but that is a big monster that requires teams of lawyers and thousands of dollars that we do not have.”

The 2020 Black Lives Matter movement, a worldwide protest against police brutality and the unequal treatment of Black people, popularized the phrase. White supremacist organizations, including the Ku Klux Klan (KKK), have begun using the slogan “White Lives Matter” in response, and, today, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) considers the phrase a hate slogan.

According to Ja, West has not reached out to him or Ward concerning the slogan. Many have blasted the rapper and producer for wearing the hoodie, including the family of Ahmaud Arbery, who was killed by two white men while jogging in Georgia.

In addition to the hoodie, West has made other controversial moves in recent weeks, including saying George Floyd wasn’t killed by former police officer Derek Chauvin, and making numerous anti-Semitic comments, which resulted in businesses and corporations cutting ties with the College Dropout rapper.