- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 6, 2002

PHILADELPHIA The foundation established in the name of September 11 hero Todd Beamer is racing to trademark his last known words "Let's roll" and ensure that any money made off the phrase goes to the families of the terrorist attack victims.
The foundation is competing against a dozen companies and individuals who want to sell everything from T-shirts to mud flaps emblazoned with what has become a catch phrase for American courage.
The race could lead to a legal battle over whether someone can actually claim exclusive use over such a commonly used expression.
Doug MacMillan, executive director of the Todd M. Beamer Foundation, said the foundation wants to put the phrase on merchandise such as T-shirts and hats and put a stop to "profiteering" by those who are already selling such items.
"We think it's horrible for people to want to profit off the events of September 11. If there's anybody who should be benefiting, it should be the victims," Mr. MacMillan said.
The foundation, supported by Mr. Beamer's family and set up to raise money for relatives of victims of the terrorist attacks, applied for a trademark for "Let's roll" on Sept. 26 four days after Iman Abdallah of Newark, N.J.
That application to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office calls for using "Let's roll" on T-shirts. The applicant has an unlisted number and could not be reached for comment.
At least a dozen other individuals and companies also have applied for a trademark for "Let's roll" and variations such as "America Let's Roll" and "Are you ready? Let's roll."
Jack L. Williams, 59, a contractor from Grosse Pointe Park, Mich., applied for a trademark on Sept. 24, two days before the Beamer foundation. He said he ignored a warning letter from the foundation's lawyers.
"I don't care what your name is, it's first in, first swim," said Mr. Williams, whose application lists T-shirts and sweat shirts as potential uses. "It's all about good old American capitalism."
American Promotional Events Inc., an Alabama wholesale fireworks distributor, has decided to work with the Beamer foundation rather than pursue its own trademark application, spokesman Dennis Revell said Friday.
Mr. Beamer, a 32-year-old account manager for Oracle Corp., was on United Flight 93, which crashed in the Pennsylvania countryside September 11. It was the only one of four hijacked planes that didn't kill anyone on the ground.
Not long before the crash, Mr. Beamer cried, "Let's roll" on an in-flight phone as passengers apparently prepared to confront the hijackers.
"Let's roll" has since become a national catchphrase. President Bush has repeatedly invoked Mr. Beamer's words to rally Americans in the war on terrorism, while rocker Neil Young wrote a tribute song with the same title.
The phrase has been used to sell everything from bumper stickers to T-shirts to mugs. On the EBay Internet auction site, a seller advertises "Let's roll" inspirational bracelets.
The foundation does not have a problem with others using "Let's roll" to raise money for attack victims, "but when people are hawking his image and sticking the money in their pockets, then we've got a problem with that," Mr. Kennedy said.
Boston patent lawyer Tom Holt said he does not believe a trademark on "Let's roll" would survive a court challenge.
Mr. Holt, who is not connected to the dispute, said it is difficult to get legal control of a phrase that many people used before the attacks.
"You can't seek to appropriate for your own use words plucked out of the dictionary," he said. "While the words 'Let's roll' have taken on a very profound significance, I don't think trademark protection will be given to that phrase."

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide