Hell hath no fury like a math nerd scorned.
That is the lesson being learned by Bensonhurst resident Paul Ingrisano, an artist and entrepreneur who trademarked the 3,000-year-old mathematical symbol π. – pi, followed by a period – as the logo for his apparel brand.
Ingrisano, 26, filed paperwork in January staking claim to the symbol, which graces his t-shirts, tank tops, hats and other clothing. He told the Daily News that “Pi” was a childhood nickname inspired by his initials. His company is Pi Productions Corp.
Had he left it there, it would have been unlikely to rankle math nerds and designers. But Ingrisano hired a lawyer and sent out a battery of cease-and-desists to users of the online marketplace Zazzle.com.
That site, where artists set up online shops to vend clothing, stationary, mugs and other items with their designs, acted swiftly, removing thousands of items with the pi symbol and informing their users of the potential abuse. The symbol is widely used for all kinds of math jokes, from pi-rate puns to mathematical musings on the sweet, fruit-filled desserts.
Although the trademark is for π. – pi, followed by a period – the site pulled any product with the symbol, with or without a period. That set off geek designers nationwide, according to a Wired article:
Pi is a popular symbol in mathematical puns, so the pi-pocalypse lit a firestorm in the print-on-demand T-shirt world. “This is asinine,” wrote Dave Lartigue, whose banned “Pi plus E” shirts asserted that pi summed with the mathematical constant e add up to a tasty dessert. “Zazzle gave me instructions on how to file a counter-notice, and I plan to. Not because I really care about the dumb design, but because this is ridiculous asshattery that shouldn’t be allowed to continue.”
“This would be like McDonalds claiming the letter M as a trademark,” wrote Jez Kemp, whose Zazzle store offers apparel imagining pi dressed in a pirate costume. “The trademark is in the combination of style and symbol, not the symbol itself.”
Zazzle reversed its decision two days later, but Ingrisano told the Daily News he’s been receiving hate mail including death threats for trying to claim his piece of the π.
“I’m not trying to hurt anyone,” the 26-year-old Bensonhurst resident told the Daily News. “I’m just trying to protect my symbol and what I do.”
Still, it hasn’t stopped dozens of spurned mathematicians and artists from posting critical comments on the company’s Facebook page:
“Pythagoras would have stabbed your bitch ass,” said one.
“You probably don’t even know the first 10 digits fucking tool,” said another.