A man has been staging a protest for several days outside the head office of clothing company Reitmans, which he accuses of stealing his slogan “Mom, I’m fine.”
Jonathan Kubben Quinonez said he wants to put pressure on the company to respect his trademark.
Since setting up a makeshift camp on Sauve St. in Ahuntsic-Cartierville, Quinonez said he’s received unexpected support, with neighbours offering him use of their bathrooms, people lending him camping gear or helping him charge his computer and phone.
“These are people I didn’t know. I don’t have words, it’s incredible,” he said.
Quinonez said since his arrival a week ago his lawyers and Reitmans’ have resumed talks.
The battle over “Mom, I’m fine” goes back to 2016, when Quinonez left Belgium to undertake a trip around the world. In order to reassure his mother he posted photos of the places he visited with a poster with the slogan on it in French.
The slogan soon went viral, as hundreds of thousands of people began following his adventures. Quinonez said he trademarked the phrase and was using the profits for humanitarian purposes.
In a statement, Reitmans said their use of the slogan in a promotional campaign in 2018 was "legitimate and legal."
"When we learned via social media that Mr. Kubben, an influencer who was using the expression Mom I’m Fine, was concerned by our campaign, we contacted him immediately," they said. "Despite the fact that Mr. Kubben did not own the trademark in Canada and did not have any commercialized product in the country, we stopped the promotion of this campaign less than one week after its launch, even though there would financial losses incurred by this decision for our organization."
"We have had a number of exchanges whereby most notably we have expressed our willingness to transfer the Mom I’m Fine trademark application for Canada to Mr. Kubben in addition to making a donation to the Mom I’m Fine Foundation to demonstrate our good will."