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?

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Comments on “EFF Takes Up The Cause Of Bogus Trademarks On Military Hardware”

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26 Comments
Jake says:

Re: Re: 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.

TheDock22 says:

Re: Re: Re:2 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.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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?

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

DCsSuck says:

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.

MLS (profile) says:

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.

Avatar28 says:

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.

MLS (profile) says:

Re: 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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