Jay Z's failed attempt to profit from protest with Occupy t-shirts

For anyone who doesn't know, Occupy Wall Street (OWS) is a series of protests against corporate greed, with a focus on the activities of the financial services sector.

Demonstrations began on 17th September 2011 in the Zuccotti Park area of Wall Street (New York's financial district), and look set to continue into the New Year.

Similar protests have appeared across the US, with Occupy Oakland and Occupy New Orleans making the news after a number of demonstrators died in a range of different circumstances.

In the UK, the Occupy London movement has been camped outside St Paul's Cathedral since 15th October, with a hearing on the eviction of protestors set for 19th December.

So what does any of this have to do with fashion? That's where hip-hop superstar Jay-Z comes in. Founder of Roc-A-Fella Records and clothing label Rocawear, he is worth an estimated $450 million. Not the most obvious poster boy, then, for a movement that exists to highlight the evils of the pursuit of private profit.

If he had truly chosen to support the Occupy campaign, he probably would have had enough credibility to be accepted. Instead, what he chose to do was produce a line of "Occupy All Streets" t-shirts and sell them through the Rocawear website, donating precisely 0% of the proceeds to OWS.

Rocawear released this rather lame statement:

"Rocawear strongly encourages all forms of constructive expression, whether it be artistic, political or social. 'Occupy All Streets" is our way of reminding people that there is change to be made everywhere, not just on Wall Street. At this time we have not made an official commitment to monetarily support the movement."

The Occupy protestors were less than impressed with this attempt to make money out of their war on greed, and the strength of feeling against Jay-Z's latest business move led to the t-shirts being removed from the site less than a week after they went on sale.

Artist David Edwards even produced a sculpture of Jay-Z with the faces of Ritchie Rich, Scrooge McDuck and Mr Burns extending from his own blinged-out bust.

OWS may have won their battle with Jay-Z, but the Washington Post has reported that the US Patent and Trademark Office "has received a spate of applications from enterprising merchandisers, lawyers and others seeking to win exclusive commercial rights to such phrases as "We are the 99 percent," "Occupy" and "Occupy DC 2012."

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