Waukegan woman seeks to trademark ‘I can’t breathe’ | WBEZ
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Waukegan woman seeks to trademark 'I can't breathe'

A Chicago-area woman is trying to trademark the dying of words of Eric Garner.

When Eric Garner died in a police officer's chokehold in July, his final words, captured on camera, were “I can’t breathe.”

The words have become a national protest slogan. Many athletes, including Chicago Bulls star Derrick Rose, have worn the phrase on t-shirts before games to express solidarity with the anti-police brutality movement. 

Protesters in Chicago and around the country have scrawled the phrase on signs and rallied around the #ICantBreathe Twitter hashtag.

Related: Chicago artists gather for 'We Must Breathe' protest

Now, a woman from Waukegan, a suburb north of Chicago, wants to claim the phrase as her own.

Catherine Crump filed an application for trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office on Dec. 13. In it, Crump seeks to license “I can’t breathe” for use on hoodies and t-shirts “for men, women, boys, girls and infants.”

In her application, Crump, who could not be reached for comment, says she first used the words commercially back in August.

Crump paid $325 to apply. The application comes attached with photos of her “I can’t breathe” merchandise.

The patent office assigned the application to an attorney for examination on Friday.

Patrick Smith is a WBEZ producer and reporter. Follow him @pksmid.

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