The recent capture of Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán Loera has resulted in a flood of merchandise inspired by the infamous drug kingpin, from t-shirts to cupcakes to piñatas. But, buyer beware: Most of it is unauthorized. Only a few people have the right to officially market the “El Chapo” brand.
Among them is a woman believed to be Guzmán’s daughter, who registered several trademarks with the Mexican Institute of Industrial Property (IMPI in Spanish), allowing her to put the cartel boss’s nickname on a variety of goods. These include jewelry, watches, animal skins… and Christmas-tree decorations.
Now might be a good time to cash in on those trademarks. Demand is surging even for products not purposely associated with Guzmán. The company that made the psychedelic shirt he wore during his meeting with Sean Penn, for example, is drowning in orders.
In 2010, Alejandrina Gisselle Guzmán Salazar, El Chapo’s alleged daughter (like many things about the drug lord, the exact number and identities of his offspring are disputed), filed a dozen applications (link in Spanish) for trademarks for different names associated with him. The names that included “Guzmán” were rejected. Granting them, IMPI wrote in its rejection letters, would be against “ethics and good customs” due to El Chapo’s status as a fugitive of justice.
Strangely, though, the government had no qualms about approving four trademarks for the use of plain “El Chapo.” (A spokesman for IMPI declined to comment.)
Mexico adheres to the international Nice Classification, which grants trademarks for broad and rather eclectic categories of goods. This makes it hard to tell precisely what merchandising strategy Guzmán’s daughter had in mind. One of her trademarks covers leather (both real and fake), animal skins, whips, umbrellas and parasols, walking sticks, and saddlery. Another includes precious metals, gemstones, jewelry, and watches. Most of these, at least, are products likely to enjoy robust demand from narco culture fans.
More puzzling are the other two El Chapo trademarks: Toys, games, gym equipment, and the aforementioned Christmas ornaments come under one, while the other includes publicity services, business management, and office work. (El Chapo Consulting, anyone?)
It’s unclear whether the trademarks have ever been used to market anything. They expire in 2020.
Three other people who filed even earlier applications have IMPI’s permission to use the El Chapo name on—among other things—clothing, hats, and shoes; educational, sporting, and cultural activities; and a bewildering array of gadgets, from recording devices to nautical instruments to cash registers. Whether these people have any connection to Guzmán is unknown (Spanish), Mexican newspaper Milenio reports. The first of those registrations expires this summer—so if the official El Chapo polo shirt doesn’t make it to stores soon, you may never see one.
Not all Guzmán’s relatives were so lucky. His latest wife, a former beauty queen named Emma Coronel Aispuro (Spanish), also applied for a series of trademarks in 2014—for her husband’s benefit, not her own, she claimed, according to documents filed with IMPI by her lawyer. IMPI rejected them. In a rebuttal letter, the lawyer argued that El Chapo had a right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. IMPI was not swayed.