Cu (II) complexes with the sterically hindered diphenol derivatives 3,5-di(tert-butyl)-1,2-benzenediol (I), 4,6-di(tert-butyl)-1,2,3-benzenetriol (II) and the sulfur-containing 4,6-di(tert-butyl)-3-(2-hydroxyethylsulfanyl)-1,2-benzenediol (III) and 2-[4,6-di(tert-butyl)-2,3-dihydroxyphenylsulfanyl]acetic acid (IV) have been synthesized and characterized by elemental analysis, TG/DTA, FT-IR, ESR, XPS, XPD and conductivity measurements. Compounds I–III can coordinate in their singly deprotonated forms and act as bidentate ligands. These compounds yield Cu (II) complexes of the stoichiometry Cu(L)2, which have square planar geometry (g| > g⊥ > ge). Unlike them, compound IV behaves as a terdentate ligand, and its complex Cu(LIV)2 has distorted octahedral geometry. According to ESR data, only the Cu(LII)2 complex contains a very small amount of phenoxyl radicals. Antimicrobial activities of these ligands and their respective Cu (II) complexes have been determined with respect to Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria, as well as on yeasts. Their phytotoxic properties against Chlorella vulgaris 157 were also examined.