EFF Takes Up The Cause Of Bogus Trademarks On Military Hardware

from the don't-make-a-model-of-a-b-24-bomber dept

A few years back, we highlighted one of the more ridiculous examples of "intellectual property" claims stretched to ridiculous ends: defense contractors were claiming intellectual property rights over the designs of military hardware and were demanding that model toy makers pay up. Despite widespread criticism when this first happened, they're still doing it. The EFF is now hitting back against Lockheed Martin for forcing digital images of a model of a B-24 bomber offline using its trademark on the B-24. As the EFF notes, this particular trademark should never have been granted, as it's completely reasonable to be able to accurately describe what sort of plane it is using the government-given name for it. The EFF has now sent a letter to Lockheed Martin politely requesting it change its position on this matter. Anyone want to set odds on Lockheed Martin changing its mind?


Reader Comments (rss)

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  1.  
    identicon
    SteveD, Apr 14th, 2008 @ 2:48am

    Public Image

    I can't see public image being very high on the agenda of a defence contractor, somehow...

     

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  2.  
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    Ryan, Apr 14th, 2008 @ 3:38am

    Re: Public Image

    Perhaps you don't know much about the military and the contractors that work for them. Image is everything, perception is reality and all the above takes precedence over getting the job done right.

     

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  3.  
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    SteveD, Apr 14th, 2008 @ 3:50am

    Re: Re: Public Image

    I don't, so could you explain a bit? Why are military contractors worried over what the public think of them? The public arn't their customers.

     

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  4.  
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    Coward, Apr 14th, 2008 @ 3:58am

    Why is it then

    That all the other model-types get permission to use the likliness. Go into a hobby store and find a model of a '72 Stingray - I'd be willing to bet that you see that somewhere on the box, Chevrolet has given permission. Why is this any different??

     

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  5.  
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    Jake, Apr 14th, 2008 @ 4:01am

    Re: Public Image

    Defence contractors are like any other contractor in that regard, I suppose; if they get a bad rep for their attitude, people are going to start thinking that maybe the government ought to take its business elsewhere, and expressing that opinion to their elected representative. At the very least, it might lose Lockheed-Martin at least some of its political influence and maybe tip the balance slightly towards its competitors.

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 14th, 2008 @ 4:10am

    Re: Why is it then

    Go into a hobby store and find a model of a '72 Stingray - I'd be willing to bet that you see that somewhere on the box, Chevrolet has given permission.

    What make a '72 Stingray special?

     

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  7.  
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    DCsSuck, Apr 14th, 2008 @ 4:51am

    What makes it different

    is that the government owns the tech data package on those items. we could take the data rights and move the line to say, boeing, and there would be no problem. That doesn't happen because lockheed is all geared up to produce these things and boeing would need a new assembly line. But the fact remains, it's usually a competitive solicitation.

     

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  8.  
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    comboman, Apr 14th, 2008 @ 5:05am

    Re: Why is it then

    Because the government didn't use taxpayer dollars to commission Chevrolet to design the '72 Stingray. Defense companies don't own the designs they create for the government, the government does.

     

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  9.  
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    Rekrul, Apr 14th, 2008 @ 5:47am

    I don't see how they claim any infringement at all. He used the plane's name to identify digital images of it. Is Lockheed Martin claiming that they're the only ones in the world who can publish images of this plane?

     

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  10.  
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    Eric Aitala, Apr 14th, 2008 @ 5:59am

    Scale modeling...

    Unfortunately this kind of things is also happening in the scale modeling hobby... companies are claiming copyright on military designs and logos on race cars. Its helping to kill off a hobby that is already in trouble because of an aging demographic.

    Eric Aitala

     

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  11.  
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    Pete Valle, Apr 14th, 2008 @ 6:21am

    Scale modeling

    As I understand it, works made by the U.S. Government are in the public domain. Since the plane was made under the a U.S. government contract for the government, the design should not be copyrighted.

    At least, its how understand this.

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 14th, 2008 @ 7:36am

    Re: What makes it different

    "...lockheed is all geared up to produce these things..."

    That would seem like rather wishful thinking on Lockheed's part. :P

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 14th, 2008 @ 7:39am

    Re: Why is it then

    That all the other model-types get permission to use the likliness. Go into a hobby store and find a model of a '72 Stingray - I'd be willing to bet that you see that somewhere on the box, Chevrolet has given permission. Why is this any different??
    Has something changed? I used to build models as a kid and none of the boxes had any such "permission" on them.

     

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  14.  
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    TheDock22, Apr 14th, 2008 @ 8:49am

    Re: Re: Public Image

    if they get a bad rep for their attitude, people are going to start thinking that maybe the government ought to take its business elsewhere, and expressing that opinion to their elected representative.

    You obviously don't know how the government works. Their contracts will ALWAYS go to the lowest bidder no matter what the public thinks. That is because the majority of the public doesn't want to pay any more money in taxes. You can't have both worlds on this one.

     

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  15.  
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    FLyfish, Apr 14th, 2008 @ 9:02am

    Re: Why is it then

    My taxes didn't pay to develop the Corvette.

    This isn't just images, they (Lockheed) went after UBISoft and 4C for including the P38 in a flight sim (IL2 Forgotten Battles).

    They get rich off our taxes making aircraft and then want royalties from their fan base. I hope the EFF wins this one.

     

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  16.  
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    Jake, Apr 14th, 2008 @ 9:15am

    Re: Public Image

    Perhaps, Dock, but bad publicity still plays into Boeing's hands on this one.

     

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  17.  
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    TheDock22, Apr 14th, 2008 @ 9:30am

    Re: Re: Public Image

    Not enough for the government to do anything about it. They are too busy fighting wars and bickering among each other for votes to really care.

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 14th, 2008 @ 9:37am

    Re: Re: Why is it then

    "What make a '72 Stingray special?"

    Don't you mean, "Who makes a '72 Stingray special?" It was a Chevy & Corvette venture. Answer, "Both".

    At ant rate, lets get back on topic.

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous, Apr 14th, 2008 @ 1:40pm

    Why

    Why can anyone copyright something paid for by tax payer dollars? It is absurd as parts of the atomic bomb being patented. This is just another example of how the government is setup to perpetuate the survival of large corporations, while trampling citizen's rights!

     

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  20.  
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    Lucretious, Apr 14th, 2008 @ 2:28pm

    "What make a '72 Stingray special?"

    last year before the catalytic converter was implemented?

    *walks away feeling stupid as usual*

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 14th, 2008 @ 4:09pm

    Re: Re: Re: Public Image

    You obviously don't know how the government works. Their contracts will ALWAYS go to the lowest bidder no matter what the public thinks.

    Bull. You seem to be the one with a lack of understanding. Contracts are often written in such a manner that only one company will qualify no matter what they bid. That is, if bids are even required, which they aren't in the case of no-bid contracts. That little beauty has been used quite a bit in Iraq.

    I used to work for a major defense contractor and was involved in the proposal process. I can tell you that the most important requirement for getting a contract was having the right contacts. In fact, if you were ex-military with procurement contacts you could get hired into a management position with little to no relevant experience or education. "Contracts through contacts" was the business model and it worked very well. And bidding is really no problem when you're the only bidder.

     

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  22.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 14th, 2008 @ 4:23pm

    Re: Re: Re: Why is it then

    Don't you mean, "Who makes a '72 Stingray special?"

    No, I meant what makes that model special in that the commenter referred to it in particular instead of models in general. As if though special rules about box printing applied to that model and I was wondering why that should be. Actually, I suspect it was really a "weasel clause" so that if anyone challenged him on it he could just say "I only said so for '72 Stingray models".

    At ant rate, lets get back on topic.

    Who made you the moderator?

     

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  23.  
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    Avatar28, Apr 14th, 2008 @ 6:15pm

    Didn't we got through this a few years back with the F-29 and LM claiming ownership of the name and Raptor trademark, etc. They were demanding royalties for it's use from the various companies making games until the USAF stepped in and stepped on a few necks and asserted it's ownership over all related designs and trademarks.

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    MLS, Apr 14th, 2008 @ 6:36pm

    Re:

    Yes, the USAF had a knee jerk reaction about 8 or 9 years ago when it learned that Lockheed (at its Skunkworks division) was claiming (and legitimately so) trademark rights in the products it sells domestically and internationally. That reaction was quickly dissipated once the USAF learned a little bit about trademark law and that the registration of the trademarks in no way impacted it.

     

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  25.  
    icon
    SpammersAreScum (profile), Apr 16th, 2008 @ 5:46pm

    Re: Scale modeling

    Uh, no. If you develop something under contract to the US Gov't, the contract usually gives the Gov't ownership of the result. However, government-owned =/= public domain, although it appears some people believe it should.

     

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  26.  
    identicon
    MLS, Apr 17th, 2008 @ 8:06am

    Re: Re: Scale modeling

    For the sake of accuracy, the USG does not as a matter of course obtain "ownership" of any rights that may be available as the result of work product created by a contractor or subcontractor under a contract with the USG.

    But for a couple of very minor exceptions that virtually never come into play, all rights are retained by the contractor or subcontractor who actually performed the work giving rise to such rights.

     

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