Kanye West could dig himself an even bigger hole if he tries to sell his "White Lives Matter" shirts in America ... because that phrase has already been trademarked -- and guess what? It's owned by 2 black men.
Ramses Ja and Quinton Ward, hosts of the radio show Civic Cipher, legally got rights to the phrase last month ... telling CNN it's all about making sure it doesn't end up in the wrong hands.
The trademark covers the right to sell clothing with those words displayed.
The trademark was acquired by an anonymous listener of Ramses and Quinton's racial justice show ... filing it the same day Ye wore his controversial outfit at Paris fashion week.
The listener transferred ownership over to their show a few weeks back.
Ramses and Quinton said it was a tough call to take the trademark ... but added, “Once it was clear that someone stood to gain significant profit from it, because as you’ve seen, even though (Kanye) 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.”