Pi Symbol Trademark Controversy

Pi Symbol Trademark Controversy

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Updated Jun 02, 2014 at 03:53PM EDT by Brad.

Added Jun 02, 2014 at 01:31PM EDT by Don.

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Pi Symbol Trademark Controversy refers to the removal of several T-shirt designs bearing the mathematical constant “π” from Zazzle[3] after the online retailer was issued a cease-and-desist letter from a lawyer representing Paul Ingrisano, a New York City artist who obtained the trademark on the Greek letter, in May 2014.


On November 21st, 2012, the founder of the Brooklyn-based apparel company Pi Apparels Paul Ingrisano[1] filed a trademark request for the symbol “π” followed by a period punctuation mark. The trademark was registered on January 28th, 2014.[2]

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On May 16th, 2014, Zazzle received a cease-and-desist letter from a lawyer representing Ingrisano, who demanded the online retailer to remove an array of merchandises bearing the Pi symbol.

Online Reaction

On May 28th, Zazzle Forums[4] member Quidama submitted a thread title “Mathematical ‘Pi’ Symbol is Trademarked?”, noting that several designs containing the π symbol had been removed from the site. The same day, artist Jez Kemp criticized Zazzle in a post on his personal blog[5] for removing his designs containing the symbol. On May 29th, artist Dave Lartique published a blog post[6] calling the Zazzle takedowns “asinine.”

Zazzle's Response

On May 29th, a staff member at Zazzle responded to the forum post, explaining that the items were temporarily pulled out as they continued to evaluate the legal basis of the complaint. On June 1st, many of the T-shirt designs had been restored on the site.[3]

News Media Coverage

In the coming days, several tech news sites published articles about the backlash to the trademarked symbol, including.The Daily Dot,[7] CNET[8] and Wired.[9]

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