OJ TAKES A LITTLE (R)&(R), AND LAWYERS GET BUSY

OJ TAKES A LITTLE (R)&(R), AND LAWYERS GET BUSY

When Mohammad Jalallar came to New York City from Afghanistan to join his sons at their O J Art Gallery five years ago, he had never heard of O.J. Simpson.

That changed last year, when Mr. Simpson was charged in the murder of his ex-wife and one of her friends, Ron Goldman.While the murder trial ended in Mr. Simpson's acquittal, new court battles with businesses like Mr. Jalallar's could start in six to eight weeks.

Welcome to O.J.(r), the trademark.

It is a common practice for corporations to register trademarks with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in Washington, said spokeswoman Ruth Nyblod.

But nothing related to the Simpson case is common. By applying last year to register the words "O.J.," "O.J. Simpson" and "Juice," Mr. Simpson hopes to collect a windfall of millions in royalties from the sale of clothing, figurines or sporting goods.

Orange-juice producers are not affected, said Ms. Nyblod.

But other O.J.s could keep Mr. Simpson's attorneys busy. In Manhattan alone, there are seven businesses with O.J. in their name, including the gallery started 13 years ago by Mr. Jalallar's sons Omar and Jay.

Even the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is not sure just how many of its members could be affected, said spokeswoman Barbara Lewis.

There are also foreign O.J.s that could be affected by the U.S. trademark laws if they do business in this country.

Take, for instance, O.J. Pipelines, in Nisku, Alberta, outside Edmonton, a division of Ocelot Energy Inc. While "99 percent of our business is in Canada," the company does some consulting work in the United States, said Joyce Demers, an executive assistant.

"We were incorporated under this name. We have always had this name. It would be weird to be called something else," she said. "I didn't realize he was doing that."

There is even an O.J. Central site on the World Wide Web.

Ms. Nyblod of the trademark office said businesses had until Oct. 5 to oppose the O.J. trademark filings. None did, and so the registrations will become official in December, she said.

By then the O J Art Gallery will have changed its name - a move long in the works, Mr. Jalallar insisted.

But others are ready to fight O.J. over O.J.(r)

"I have had my name registered through the city (of New York) for three years, and I have my rights," said Mike Burgos, co-owner of the O J Press, a printing firm.