Hey, Internet. Are you feeling ok? Because I noticed you’ve been, er, overreacting a bit lately, the most recent example involving a Brooklyn fashion designer who patented a logo that includes the pi symbol? And listen, we know, the pi symbol is precious to you. You’ve probably got the first five-hundred digits memorized and that’s, like, your fun party trick. Maybe you’ve got a cute little tattoo of it on your wrist, or you’ve made it all the way through that creepy Darren Aronofsky film. You are definitely one of those people who eats a slice of pie every March 14th. But when it comes to the guy who trademarked the pi symbol next to a period, maybe we can all just cool it with the death threats? Sound good?
26-year-old Bensonhurst(-ian? -er? -ite?) Paul Ingrisano successfully trademarked the symbol next to a period for his fashion company, Pi Productions Corp, in January. On May 16 he and his lawyer sent a cease-and-desist letter to the custom T-shirt site Zazzle for infringing on the copyright due to its massive quantity of mathematical pun shirts. Zazzle responded by removing all of the thousands of pi products from its site, but believing that Ingrisano’s case wouldn’t hold up, reversed their decision and restored them all to the site two days later. Now, Ingrisano says he’s getting death threats. Seems reasonable.
According to the Daily News, “the hate mail from ‘Internet tough guys’ pours in on a daily basis, he said, but he still has support in Brooklyn arts circles.” Apparently, someone has even created an entire website devoted to the fact that Ingrisano sucks (our Google efforts to find such a site have proved unsuccessful) as well as t-shirts that use mathematical punnery to shame him, including this one:
And then there’s the poetry of Twitter:
It's just a matter of time before "artist" Paul Ingrisano gets a rightful beatdown for trademarking the term pi. http://t.co/xOq3uFqTe2
— Kunal Dagli (@ilanuki) June 1, 2014
LRT: π. – come at me, Paul Ingrisano, you trademark-abusing pile of dogshit. #TemptingFate
— S. T. Stone (@DammitFreehaven) June 3, 2014
New York artist Paul Ingrisano is the worst person in the world.
— Marion Delgado (@mariondelgado) June 4, 2014
All the Haterade may have gone to waste, however. NYU Law Professor Christopher Sprigman believes the legality of Ingrisano’s trademark probably doesn’t extend to the pi symbol itself—likely just the symbol designed in front of a period. Since pi is already a part of everyday language (and, uh, is a 3,000-year-old mathematical constant), it’s impossible to trademark, which is probably why Zazzle felt confident enough that they couldn’t get sued and reinstated all the pi-wear.
As for the “worst person in the world”? “I think most of the people who are angry are just mad they didn’t come up with it first,” he says.
To recap: A whole bunch of seemingly very unpleasant people did some very not-so-nice things, and no one won. If there’s a moral to the story, it’s this: Don’t send death threats, and nothing matters.
Follow Rebecca Jennings on Twitter @rebexxxxa