Law of Pi trademarking


In January 2014, a Brooklyn artist named Paul Ingrisano trademarked the 3,000-year old mathematical symbol "π" followed by a period, and is actively protecting his mark, Wired's Kevin Poulsen reports.

To underscore that he means business, Ingrisano, through his lawyer, Ronald Millet, sent a letter to Zazzle.com, a Pi novelty company, demanding that they "[i]mmediately cease and desist" their "unlawful" usage of the Pi trademark or "any confusingly similar trademark," and, within 14 days:

1. Provide an accounting of all sales of any products containing their trademark.

 2. Provide an inventory of all relevant products.

3. Disclose any other uses, electronic or print, that have been made of the trademark.

4. Provide an account of the date when the Pi trademark was first incorporated into their products, a list of all known links to Zazzle's webpage, and a list of third parties who offer such products.

The letter threatened attorney's fees and "treble money damages.

Implied in the letter is the plaintiff's position that "any confusingly similar trademark" includes the Pi symbol itself, without the period, since none of the products offered by Zazzle features a Pi followed by a period. Indeed, according to a report in Wired, Ingrisano's attorney Millet has asserted that many items for sale by Zazzle "clearly have a pi sign and look similar enough that folks out there might confuse it with products that my client also sells."

Zazzle responded by temporarily banning all garments featuring the Pi symbol, which involved "thousands of products," according to the Wired report. But two days later, after being flooded with complaints, Zazzle restored the products. Millet is consulting with Ingrisano as to their next step.

Along this line, it is amusing to note that a Pi design is featured by the Mathematical Association of America (MAA) as a finalist for its 2014 T-Shirt Contest (and the design includes one formula that one of the present authors was instrumental in discovering). Will MAA be challenged as well?


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