An Illinois woman filed a trademark application for "I Can't Breathe" for the purposes of putting the phrase on T-shirts, hoodies for men, women, boys, girls and infants.
The Chicago Tribune reported that Catherine Crump, a 57-year-old from Waukegan, spent $325 to file the application on Dec. 13 with the United States Patent and Trademark office. When reached by the paper, she declined to comment.
The phrase has become ubiquitous at protests and rallies after a New York jury declined to indict a New York City police officer in the death of Eric Garner, who was heard saying "I can't breathe" during an altercation with law enforcement before he died. Athletes have been seen wearing a black T-shirt with the phrase written in white.
Protesters supporting police have even been seen wearing "I Can Breathe" T-shirts, as a nod to law enforcement.
Crump claims that she started using the phrase about a month after Garner's July death. But a University of Chicago law professor told the paper if she cannot prove that she was the first person to produce these T-shirts, "she's going to be out of luck."
"It's conceivable it could be worth a considerable amount of money. They could make a tidy sum," Jonathan Masur, the professor, said.