Longueuil man’s request to use controversial red square symbol to sell products denied

Protesters fly the red square as they oppose Quebec student tuition fee increases, Montreal, Tuesday, February 26, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES/Graham Hughes.

MONTREAL – If you were hoping to buy a shirt or decorate your apartment with mugs, napkins and maybe even pillows adorned with red squares, you’re in for a disappointment.

Canada’s intellectual property office has rejected a Montreal-area man’s request to copyright the now infamous symbol of Quebec’s student uprising back in 2012.

Raymond Drapeau, from Longueuil, wanted to use the design to sell products, even creating online boutique Carré Rouge Solidarité to sell them. The website has since been taken offline.

Drapeau told La Presse he hadn’t sold many products since launching his virtual boutique.

“It costed me $10,000, not $5,” he said.

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Quebec student organization, Fédération étudiante collégiale du Québec (FECQ), opposed the idea, arguing that the red square shouldn’t be used for commercial purposes.

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“Yes, we went against this demand because the red square is, even before the student movement of 2012, it was used for social justice,” said Antoine Côté, FECQ president.

The student organization insisted commercializing a symbol of change goes against its very meaning.

“A lot of people still wear it, obviously not for the student strike, but as I said, for social justice in Quebec and the world,” said Côté.

“I’m glad some people still wear it and it remains this symbol, and most importantly, the office [of intellectual property] recognizes this as a symbol.”

Drapeau has until March 5 to file an appeal; Côté said the FECQ will be paying attention if he does.

“You never know what the office can say, but we had a pretty strong defence and we knew that in people’s imagination, red squares are pretty closely associated with the students,” he said.

“I’m kind of sad for him, but in the end it was a bad idea, so you can’t just take something that belongs to everyone and appropriate it for yourself and make money out of it. It was a bad idea.”

Drapeau was unable to be reached for comment.


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