Feds Still Trying To Abuse Trademark Law (?!?) To Stop Motorcycle Gang

from the consumer-confusion? dept

Nearly three years ago, we wrote about an absolutely ridiculous plan by the US government to try to deal with a motorcycle gang. Beyond just arresting approximately 80 members of the Mongols motorcycle gang around the country and charging them with a variety of criminal charges including murder, robbery, racketeering, extortion, money laundering, gun trafficking and drug dealing... the US government also decided it wanted to seize the trademark of the gang, and then use that to try to stop the gang. At the time, they claimed this would allow them to simply take jackets off of motorcycle riders by claiming trademark infringement. Of course, that's not (at all) how trademark law works.

I had assumed (incorrectly, it appears) that this issue had gone away, but Dave P. alerts us to the news that three years later, the fight over who gets to own the logo is still ongoing. Apparently, while a judge issued an injunction against the gang using the logo, things went further last year, when the US government tried to officially forfeit the logo. While a judge initially agreed, he reversed his original ruling, after remaining members of the Mongols claimed that they collectively owned the logo, and the government couldn't just seize it. The government, in turn, claims that the trademark is actually held by just one guy, who has already pleaded guilty to various charges.

Of course, I still can't fathom why the government thinks holding such a trademark is useful. It's not going to stop gang members. It wouldn't take much effort to find a new logo, and the government likely wouldn't win if it actually dared to try to make use of the trademark.

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Jun 2011 @ 7:53am

    You said: "I still can't fathom why the government thinks holding such a trademark is useful"

    Me: I think that often your understanding of things is limited by a sort of direct line thinking that you use.

    What makes this useful is the disruption factor. If you cannot get the gang members on normal criminal charges (because they are slick and know how to hide), at least you have another reason to hassle them and make their day less enjoyable. It is another method to roust them, another way to touch their lives, and to make their criminal enterprise a little less enjoyable to be part of.

    Heck, if they continue to use it, the government could sue them for millions for violating trademark, and that would likely stick! Imagine that.

    You really need to think outside of the box.

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