CHOCTAW, Okla. – Officers with the Choctaw Police Department say they had to change the name of a popular Christmastime charity event after learning that someone had patented the name.
“Shop With a Cop” is a highly recognizable term that refers to programs where needy children from the community get to shop with local police officers for Christmas presents, funded by donations that are collected by the police department.
This year, 18 different kids from the Choctaw-Nicoma Park School District got $100 to spend at Wal-Mart.
It’s Choctaw’s third year for the project.
This year, it’s going by a different name.
“It’s our first year to actually call it Project Blue Lion,” Officer Tracy Burton said. “The benefit is for the kids, so for somebody to kind of patent it and feel like they’re making money off that didn’t really seem right.”
Back in the early 90′s, a consulting firm out of Ohio filed the federal trademark registration.
The president of the company says they consulted with law enforcement agencies and came up with the idea of ‘Shop With a Cop.’
He says local agencies only have to pay a fee if they use professional fundraisers to raise the money.
Burton said, “We would rather spend that money on the kids.”
Children like 9-year-old Skilee, 7-year-old Gwenn and 2-year-old Lily, whose mom said she wasn’t sure Christmas would happen this year for her girls.
Katie Peters said, “I lost my job earlier this year so trying to get caught up and everything like that, just fell behind. Christmas is a pretty big deal for kids, so I’m excited they get to do this.”
Despite having to change the name, the focus remained the same; keeping the magic of Christmas intact for these little ones.
The Ohio company that owns the rights collects about $200-a-year from police departments that use the phrase.
The president of the company says his business has agreements with thousands of police departments across the country, but he says he often lets departments in smaller towns pay less than the standard $200 fee.