Pentagon Gets Busy Trademarking After Seeing Disney Try To Cash In On SEAL Team 6
from the taxpayer-money dept
Three years ago, we wrote about how Disney applied for a trademark on “SEAL Team 6” just two days after the Navy SEAL’s Team 6 killed Osama bin Laden. While public outcry resulted in Disney dropping the trademark application a few weeks later, the situation apparently woke up some trademark lawyers at the Pentagon to get busy trademarking.
We wrote about this situation a few months ago, in noting that the military has suddenly been looking to trademark just about everything, but a recent NY Times piece suggests that it was that run-in with Disney that really ramped things up.
The Marines registered only one trademark in 2003 and four in 2008. But as troops came home from Iraq and then Afghanistan, efforts began picking up. In 2010 and the first half of 2011, the Marines registered nine trademarks.
Then Navy SEALs killed Osama bin Laden in May 2011, Disney tried to trademark the name SEAL Team Six, and things ratcheted up from there. The Navy immediately fired back at Disney, filing its own trademark for the phrases “SEAL team” and “Navy SEALs,” terms that, the Navy said in its filing, imply membership in a Navy organization that “develops and executes military missions involving special operations strategy, doctrine and tactics.”
Of course there had been some earlier abuses, including this story we had back in 2008 concerning trademarks on military hardware. Still, it’s difficult to see how the government should be able to gain a trademark in the first place on things like the name of a military team or division. Trademarks are supposed to cover use in commerce. And the government isn’t going out and selling the “SEAL team.” You can make an argument that no one should be able to get such a trademark, but it’s unclear why the government should get it at all.