Several years ago an Italian apparel company trademarked the name of history's most central figure, Jesus, and today is actively protecting its brand from other clothing companies seeking to use the same name.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Jesus Jeans registered the "Jesus" trademark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in 2007. Only the name is registered by the company, however, not the Christian savior's image.
Since obtaining the trademark the company's attorneys have cracked down on more than a dozen apparel companies that used Jesus in the name of their brands. Those pursuing trademarks for "Jesus Couture," "Jesus First" and "Sweet Jesus," among others, have already abandoned their trademark applications.
Attorneys for Jesus Jeans say they are only trying to protect their brand's value.
"If somebody – small church or even a big church – wants to use 'Jesus' for printing a few T-shirts, we don't care," Domenico Sindico, general counsel for intellectual property at BasicNet, the company that owns Jesus Jeans, told The Wall Street Journal.
M.J. Anton, founder of the Jesus Surfed Apparel Company, applied for the "Jesus Surfed" trademark in May 2012, but in November he received a letter from Jesus Jeans attorneys saying he should abandon his application.
"When I found out that someone had the trademark on the name Jesus itself I was, like, in shock," Anton told The Christian Post on Tuesday.
He got the idea for the apparel company, which donates 20 percent of its proceeds to charity, during a church event in Virginia Beach in 2004. The theme of the event was "Walk on Water," based on a story in Matthew 14:22-34 in which the Apostle Peter and Jesus Christ both walked on the water.
"We wanted to do something that would spread the Word. That's the bottom line," said Anton, who also said his apparel can create witnessing opportunities for Christians.
Anton has spoken to a number of attorneys about his trademark situation, he said, and nearly all of them told him he could be successful if he fights to obtain his trademark.
While Jesus Jeans has had trademark success in the U.S., the company's attempts at getting the same trademark in some other nations have been unsuccessful, Sindico told The Wall Street Journal. China, Australia, Turkey, Norway, Switzerland, and Cuba are among the group of nations who have refused to issue the "Jesus" trademark to the company.