The Italian jeans company that owns the trademark on the name "Jesus" in the U.S. is cracking down on apparel companies that wish to use the name in their brand.
The Wall Street Journal reports the company, called Jesus Jeans, persuaded the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to allow them to register the word "Jesus" as a trademark in 2007, giving them exclusive rights in the U.S. to the name.
The company owns the trademark just on the name "Jesus," not on the image of Christianity's central figure.
Since then, Jesus Jeans has launched a crusade against at least a dozen U.S. companies selling Jesus-themed apparel, mostly start-up clothing lines. Its litigators claim the companies are appropriating the name "Jesus" without the trademark owner's blessing.
Attorneys for the company say their trademark is similar to the trademark owned by Nike, whose namesake is the winged goddess of victory.
"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, the general counsel for intellectual property for Jesus Jean's parent company BasicNet told The Wall Street Journal.
Sindico says the company is concerned when other apparel companies attempt to use their trademark for profit.
BasicNet first applied for a "Jesus" trademark registration in 1999, and was granted the trademark eight years later.
The company has attempted to trademark the name "Jesus" in numerous other countries around the globe, but most of the applications have been denied.