ALEXANDRIA, VA (WUSA9) - The swastika and the n-word: two of the most feared and hated symbols of racism and genocide.
And now a lawyer in Alexandria and his partners are seeking to trademark them, and produce t-shirts, flags, and baby wipes emblazoned with them.
Steve Maynard says he's not a racist. He says he's seeking the trademark to beat back white supremacists.
"If we get the right to the swastika," said Maynard, "we'd be able to go into any meeting where they're selling swastika-based flags without our approval, we can confiscate those and frustrate the purpose of those white supremacists."
Maynard and his group, Snowflake Enterprises, LLC, plan to produce a swastika flag that is so expensive that no one would want to buy it. They also plan to make sandpaper baby wipes with swastikas on them. He's a former patent examiner.
Maynard said he's already received death threats.
Maynard says the group applied for a trademark on a variation of the n-word in hopes of diluting its power to hurt. He envisions a picture of Martin Luther King with the n-word and a question mark underneath it. He says that would provoke a lot of conversations. He insists he's no racist, "Not at all."
In the past, the Patent and Trademark Office would have just tossed out applications like these as offensive. But the Supreme Court threw out that ban last month, saying it was an unconstitutional restriction on free speech. That ruling also helped the Washington Redskins beat back a challenge to their trademark. It has unleashed a flood of applications for offensive trademarks.
But some patent experts say it could be a struggle for Maynard to win a trademark for a swastika. They say the rules usually require some evidence that the public associates your group with the symbol.
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