Will ‘From the River to the Sea’ become a Jewish-owned trademark?

Two attorneys look for unorthodox way to prevent Palestinian supporters from using the phrase ‘From the River to the Sea, Palestine Will Be Free.’

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Two American Jewish men have separately applied to the U.S. Trademark Office for exclusive permission to print a widespread anti-Israel chant on merchandise, with the seeming intention to prevent its use.

Lawyer Joel Ackerman of New Jersey applied regarding the whole phrase “From the River to the Sea, Palestine Will Be Free.” Oron Rosenkrantz from Pennsylvania wants to trademark only the first half, “From the River.”

Israel supporters regard the chant as calling for Israel’s destruction, as it is currently the state that fills the land between the Jordan River and Mediterranean Sea.

Ackerman’s company, From the River to the Sea Palestine Will Be Free LLC, wishes to use the phrase only on hats and shirts, according to the application.

Amazon came under fire earlier this month for allowing vendors to sell t-shirts with the slogan emblazoned on it. When questioned by Newsweek, an Amazon spokesperson said, “These products do not contravene our policies,” which prohibit the sale of products that “promote, incite, or glorify hatred, violence, racial, sexual, or religious intolerance.”

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Both applications are additionally limited to the United States, for the English version of the phrase, and only in that specific wording of it, so it is necessarily constricted in scope.

It may also take quite a long time for the trademarking process to be completed, if it is even accepted by the authorizing office.

“It takes months (at the very least) to get a mark registered,” intellectual property lawyer Fred Tecce wrote to Fox Business in reaction to their query. Even if the trademark office decides in their favor, he explained, “it gets published for what is called Opposition,” where others can contest their entitlement to the trademark.

Tecce did say that people would not be free to scream the chant at anti-Israel demonstrations, as they have done regularly all over the English-speaking world, in large numbers, since Israel declared war on Hamas following the terror organization’s surprise invasion on October 7 and its massacre of 1,200 people, the vast majority of them civilians.

“A lot of the time, trademark law usurps first amendment law, mostly because trademark ‘speech’ is ‘commercial speech’… the lowest ‘form’ of free speech,” he explained in his email.

However, the only way to stop its use would be to sue all those who are infringing on the owner’s rights, which, he pointed out, is “very expensive litigation.”

Overall, Tecce was not optimistic that the move would work.

“I would be amazed if they get this mark, irrespective of who they are or why they want it,” he wrote.  A mantra for violence, the attorney added, “will not, and should not, be the basis for a U.S. registered trademark.”

Other legal experts have pointed out that another reason for the likely failure of the applications is that the chant is well known already, so it cannot be registered as belonging to a specific person.

Still, pro-Israel activists, such as Hillel Fuld, cheered the initiative as “an epic move” to be a way “to go after every organization and seller using their trademark,” thereby limiting the spread of the hatred it expresses towards Jews.

“Gotta love the brilliant Jewish mind,” he posted to X.

One of the most efficient moves to remove the antisemitic phrase from the public sphere might already have been made.

Elon Musk, owner of X (formerly Twitter), publicized on his social media platform that users will not be allowed to be on the platform if they write it.

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“Decolonization,” “from the river to the sea” and similar euphemisms necessarily imply genocide,” he wrote on November 18. “Clear calls for extreme violence are against our terms of service and will result in suspension.”