Janie Tinklenberg, 47, a youth pastor from Holland, Mich., wanted to make Jesus a central part of her student’s lives by asking one salient question in Bible study. Another idea would be to brand that query somehow — pencils, pens, notepads — and then it hit her: beaded bracelets.
So, in 1989 she approached a local marketing firm about developing a brand and “W.W.J.D.” was born. However, not protected. By the time Tinklenberg decided to call the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), it was determined that the logo was already so popular, it would remain public domain. (Source: Salon.)
Fast forward to 2014: two people decided to earn some extra dough and sued for the trademark of the ecumenical acronym. And this guy won because that’s what Jesus would do, right?
Back on VH1, Sean “Puff Daddy, P-Diddy, Sean John, Diddy” Combs had a juvenile show called “I Want to Work for Diddy.” Of course, the hip-hop mogul didn’t hire any of these goobers, but that’s besides the point. One of the contestants was Kimberly Kearney, who went by the name of Poprah.
Early 2008, Kearney filed for the phrase “WWJD” with the USPTO because she thought of a reality show under the same acronym (and wanted to extend of her 15 minutes of “fame”).
A few months later, and unbeknownst to Poprah, Tyler Perry registered “the mark in the category of entertainment services, mentioning in his filing live concerts, a TV program and motion pictures.” Whoops.
These two have been bickering over the heavenly question for two years. Kearney’s show never happened and Perry watched her failure closely. When the reality show continued to be fantasy, Perry stepped in. According to The Hollywood Reporter, “Perry demanded that the Trademark Office declare her registration abandoned as it was blocking his own attempts to turf out ‘What Would Jesus Do.’”
So, long story short, the USPTO is forcing Tyler Perry to make a profit from this WWJD fizzled phenomenon or he will lose it — or “abandon it” — as Kearney did. That means, be prepared for “What Would Madea Do: The Movie.” Good times, right?
BTW, the trademark only applies for Hollywood stuff. If you buy the bracelet, Tinklenberg still gets a little love there, not Perry. If that makes you feel differently about it all. You’re welcome.
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