• Radio hosts Ramses Ja and Quinton Ward were given ownership of the term as a gift
  • It was originally trademarked by a listener who wanted to ensure the phrase was not misused
  • Ja and Ward are open to selling the trademark and donate the proceeds to NAACP or BLM

Kanye 'Ye' West lost his billionaire status after Adidas cut ties with him over antisemitic comments. His finances will likely take a further hit as he potentially won't be able to sell his controversial "White Lives Matter" t-shirts that debuted at Yeezy SZN 9 fashion show at Paris Fashion Week in October.

Reason? The term has been trademarked and anyone intending to use it will have to approach the owners. Standing in West's way are two Black men from Phoenix, Arizona.

Ramses Ja and Quinton Ward, hosts of the nationally syndicated weekly racial justice radio show "Civic Cipher," became legal owners of the term "White Lives Mater" sometime in late October, reported Capital B.

The trademark was filed on the very same day West walked the ramp with the controversial t-shirt on, CNN reported citing data from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Ja and Ward were given ownership of the "White Lives Matter" term as a gift from an anonymous listener, who offered to transfer it to the hosts to avoid its misuse, as per the outlet.

The listener reportedly did not like the heaviness associated with owning the term and believed the duo could leverage the phrase for Black causes. The process was completed on Oct. 28 and enabled Ja and Ward to sue anyone who uses the term for financial gain.

"The way the law works is either you're owning phrases, or it's up for grabs for people to make money off them," Ja told Capital B. "This person who first procured it didn't really love owning it, because the purpose was not necessarily to get rich off of it; the purpose was to make sure that other people didn't get rich off of that pain."

In a statement to CNN, Ward said that taking ownership of the term was not easy but they agreed to it. "Once it was clear that someone stood to gain significant profit from it, because as you've seen, even though he (West) says some really hurtful, divisive and sometimes crazy things, he has a bit of a zealot following and every time he releases something, it sells out," he said.

At the same time, Ja acknowledged that they cannot stop anyone from producing and selling clothing that bears the term. "We can write cease and desist to people selling these shirts right now, but that is a big monster that requires teams of lawyers and thousands of dollars that we do not have."

The hosts are open to selling the trademark if it helps benefit impacted races. "If we were to sell that trademark, for whatever amount of money, we could donate that money to causes that we feel would benefit Black people, like the NAACP or Black Lives Matter organizations," Ja told Capital B.

US rapper Kanye West (C), attends a fashion show during the Paris Womenswear Fashion Week, in Paris, on October 2, 2022
Kanye West at the Paris Fashion Week on Oct. 2, 2022. AFP