Trademark

by Timothy Geigner


Filed Under:
dod, military, trademark, veterans



DOD Was Apparently Sending Trademark Notices To Veterans Groups Over Military Seals

from the stop-supporting-our-troops! dept

Honor our troops and veterans. It’s something we hear a lot, especially in times of war. And while our troops and vets certainly do deserve to be honored, it appears the DOD hasn’t gotten the memo.

Yes, apparently the DOD has been sending out C&D notices over government trademarks on military seals to veterans groups who will be using them on Memorial Day to celebrate the nation's veterans. This is happening enough, in fact, that it caught the attention of Congress, which sent a letter to the Secretary of Defense essentially asking what the hell the DOD was thinking.

Dear Secretary Carter:

We were disturbed to learn that the Department of Defense has been sending cease-and-desist letters to veterans groups alleging trademark infringement for their use of official military seals to indicate, celebrate, and honor the various military departments they served. Honoring our nation's veterans should not require veterans' organizations to seek a trademark license from DOD. For example, the United Veterans Council of Santa Clara County (UVC) received a cease-and-desist letter for their use of official seals that indicated the departments they were honoring on a flyer for their Memorial Day observance - the flyer is enclosed for your review. The UVC also uses these seals on parade banners and other parade materials and has done so for 97 years without issue. It appears that other veterans' organizations have also received such letters.


It is difficult to understand the legal basis, never mind the logic of the DOD threatening any non-profit veterans group with trademark liability for using official seals to honor our nation's veterans.
The letter goes on to suggest that the DOD issue a one-time waiver for all vets groups to use the official seals on Veterans Day or any other patriotic events for the rest of the year. Which is all well and good...but what the hell? There is simply zero trademark issue here, never mind anything that the DOD would actually take action on. Imagine the DOD dragging a veterans group to court over trademarked military seals. Seals used by non-profit vets groups that aren't engaged in any commerce, never mind commerce competing with the Department of Defense.

I'll echo the letter's hope that this whole thing happened due to some overzealous DOD people at very low levels who didn't really know what they were doing, because if this actually had support of the higher ranks, we have a serious level of stupid in the DOD.


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  • identicon
    Mr Big Content, 30 Oct 2015 @ 3:07am

    Where Do You Draw Teh Line?

    I mean, OK, these animal doctors perform a valuable service. But if you let them use this Government Intellectual Property, then who else will ask for a special favor too?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Oct 2015 @ 3:32am

    Well to quote a well known trope ;) :
    The answer is simple: Money, dear boy.
    http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/MoneyDearBoy

    In all honesty it probably was the doing of "some overzealous DOD people" who didn't know any better and simply tried to cover their asses.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Oct 2015 @ 3:46am

    "we have a serious level of stupid in the DOD"

    Of course we do. Remember, this is an alleged military command that was unable to defend its own headquarters from attack on 9/11/2011...yet nobody was court-martialed, let alone executed, for that failure.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Spointman (profile), 30 Oct 2015 @ 4:02am

      Re: "we have a serious level of stupid in the DOD"

      attack on 9/11/2011

      Off by a decade? or was that intentional?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 30 Oct 2015 @ 9:13am

      Re: "we have a serious level of stupid in the DOD"

      > ... yet nobody was court-martialed, let alone executed, for that failure.

      Pour encourager les autres?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      tqk (profile), 30 Oct 2015 @ 2:08pm

      Re: "we have a serious level of stupid in the DOD"

      ... this is an alleged military command that was unable to defend its own headquarters from attack on 9/11 ...

      Not only that. There are people out there who dispute that building was actually attacked. What? The Pentagon isn't drowning in CCTV security cameras?!? How did that happen? I would have had high resolution cameras locked onto it from satellites in orbit, minimum!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Shawn, 30 Oct 2015 @ 3:49am

    level of stupid

    Just from my own experience with the DOD there always has been serious levels of stupidity in the higher ranks.

    I have 20 years with the DOD, 6 years in the Army and 14 years in the Air Force

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Jaack, 14 Nov 2015 @ 11:27pm

      Re: level of stupid

      My time in the US Air Force led me to a few truths.
      The higher the rank, the greater the level of stupidity.

      Telling the truth to a superior that doesn't want to hear it, is detrimental to a career.
      Blame your fu*kups on subordinate(s) or anyone else, never accept responsibility!
      Cost overruns on projects are the norm not the exception, never enforce penalty clauses in contracts, you may be hired by the company that breaches the contract after you retire from service!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Oct 2015 @ 4:38am

    I would not be surprised if the DOD found a judge that would side with them solely because they were the government and must be right.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Oct 2015 @ 4:38am

    Two words...

    Billable. Hours.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    NoahVail (profile), 30 Oct 2015 @ 4:58am

    Today's episode of Bad Brain Disorder is brought to you by IP

    We have a social defense mechanism that prevents us from exhibiting inappropriate and bizarre behavior.

    It failed whoever sent those C&D letters, after IP Entitlement Syndrome compromised their Reasoning System.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    David, 30 Oct 2015 @ 5:03am

    What the hell were they thinking?

    What country were those veterans thinking they were defending? Some communist trademark-violating backwater?

    This is the country they fought for. They should embrace their Cease&Desist letters. That's how they know they are no longer in 'nam.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 30 Oct 2015 @ 5:12am

      Re: What the hell were they thinking?

      I hate to break it to you, but this country is no where near the same one that it was when they came back from Nam. We have been told that our rights that are inalienable no longer apply under condition x or y and so can be ignored at will. Every day new laws and restrictions are being written by corporate lawyers and the freedom that reigned around the world is being strangled one strand or red tape at a time.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        David, 30 Oct 2015 @ 9:00am

        Re: Re: What the hell were they thinking?

        Well, it's not what the vets were fighting for. It's not what the Founding Fathers were fighting for.

        And if you want to get the Home of the Brave and the Land of the Free back, you better not waste your vote on one of the bought candidates from either major party.

        There's probably not anything better to do than to vote for Lessig. Most other votes are definitely wasted for getting back America from those who have stolen it.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Yes, I know I'm commenting anonymously, 30 Oct 2015 @ 5:09am

    Quote: because if this actually had support of the higher ranks, we have a serious level of stupid in the DOD.

    Have you heard of all those refugees flooding into Europe? That is because the mentioned ranks want to throw bombs at and drone-kill people (who profits there?). This prevents any peace process from happening while it keeps the `war' from ending.
    From a `are you a decent human beings' perspective, they are already well past that level.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    John Cressman, 30 Oct 2015 @ 5:13am

    I choose option B

    I choose option B - we have a serious level of stupid in the DOD

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    A Guy, 30 Oct 2015 @ 8:17am

    Are these “official seals” not created by the government, placing them by definition in the public domain?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    streetlight (profile), 30 Oct 2015 @ 8:19am

    Misuse of the seals may generate confusion

    By using official DOD seals in advertising, especially for fundraising, could be confusing for prospective readers and donors. Folks would certainly believe an advertisement is an official DOD solicitation. There is allegedly one support- the-disabled-former-warriers group that uses 95% of its donations for fund raising meaning only 5% goes to those in need. If they're using official DOD seals in solicitation literature (and they may not) it would seem to me to be more than misleading and allows some folks to become wealthy.


    Imagine if some fly-by-night company started using the Apple logo in its ads an on its products what would happen.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Chris Brand, 30 Oct 2015 @ 9:38am

      Re: Misuse of the seals may generate confusion

      Yeah, I have to admit that when I see the veterans parading, I often have to look closely to decide whether they're active serving troops or veterans. Perhaps they should be compelled to have somebody in a wheelchair or with a walker to help out the "morons in a hurry".

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Ragnarredbeard, 30 Oct 2015 @ 8:48am

    The DoD and Service seals are trademarked? How is that legal?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    teknosapien, 30 Oct 2015 @ 10:18am

    So who does it belong to anyway

    As a Citizen that funds the DOD through my taxes, don't I have some ownership to these symbols. do they not essentially belong to the American people?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      David, 30 Oct 2015 @ 10:52am

      Re: So who does it belong to anyway

      Yes. That's why money is collected from the veterans for their use of the U.S. trademarks in order to decrease your taxes and/or federal deficit.

      So the veterans don't have to stop serving you just because of infirmity.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Oct 2015 @ 10:56am

    Stupidity

    Low level, high level, it's all an inexcusable level of stupidity. Wow.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Avantare, 30 Oct 2015 @ 11:30am

    Tax money.

    John Q Public pays taxes to the government. The DoD is a government entity. JQ Public owns the trademark (and copyright) not the DoD. The DoD can stuff their claims.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Oct 2015 @ 11:36am

    Trademark

    I'm not even sure the Government has the ability to trademark these images. The CIA and NSA lost that battle, for the images as well as the letters. These are taxpayer funded agencies, not private organizations.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 30 Oct 2015 @ 12:35pm

      Re: Trademark

      For parody, anyway. The CIA didn't agree to allow their logo or initials to be used in Argo, but they didn't really need to agree. It would only have been a formality.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Personanongrata, 30 Oct 2015 @ 12:21pm

    War Is A Racket

    Honor our troops and veterans. It’s something we hear a lot, especially in times of war. And while our troops and vets certainly do deserve to be honored, it appears the DOD hasn’t gotten the memo.

    If you truly want to honor American soldiers, airmen/women, Marines and sailors ensure they are never again betrayed by a criminally insane political class and sent off into harms way for light and transient reasons or outright lies.

    That would be honor enough.

    War Is A Racket
    By Major General Smedley Butler

    WAR is a racket. It always has been.

    It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives.

    A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small "inside" group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes.

    War Is A Racket: http://www.ratical.org/ratvill/CAH/warisaracket.html


    Smedley Darlington Butler[1] (July 30, 1881 – June 21, 1940) was a United States Marine Corps major general, the highest rank authorized at that time, and at the time of his death the most decorated Marine in U.S. history. During his 34-year career as a Marine, he participated in military actions in the Philippines, China, in Central America and the Caribbean during the Banana Wars, and France in World War I. Butler is well known for having later become an outspoken critic of U.S. wars and their consequences, as well as exposing the Business Plot, an alleged plan to overthrow the U.S. government.

    By the end of his career, Butler had received 16 medals, five for heroism. He is one of 19 men to receive the Medal of Honor twice, one of three to be awarded both the Marine Corps Brevet Medal and the Medal of Honor, and the only Marine to be awarded the Brevet Medal and two Medals of Honor, all for separate actions.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smedley_Butler

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Oct 2015 @ 1:14pm

    Re: "we have a serious level of stupid in the DOD"

    If you look carefully, you will find that the "Peter Principle" is alive and well in ALL government agencies. People rise within the organizations until they can no longer handle the job, and there they stay. DOD is only one such.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 30 Oct 2015 @ 2:20pm

    Why does it come as a shock that the IP has more value than Veterans?
    We don't bother to keep our promises for their service
    We deny & delay medical care
    We have more of them dying when they get home than in any of the stations we sent them to
    We expect them to die quietly and not cause any problems

    How DARE these freeloaders expect to be able to have pride in their service to the country!

    They pay lip service to how much their sacrifices mean to us, and treat them like shit. If we cared why are there so many nonprofits providing support & assistance to these brave men & women who did things for us.

    Stupid knows no bounds, and if they had any honor inside the DoD they would trace how far up the line this goes and actually hand out punishments to all involved. This is another slap in the face to those who deserve so much more.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      tqk (profile), 30 Oct 2015 @ 2:44pm

      Re:

      They even lose, or actively hunt down and delete for security reasons, service records forcing vets to spend years fighting to reclaim their rights to benefits. You cycle back home to the states to be decommissioned, and the new commander in the field is ordering a wipe of every hard drive and backup storage medium. Thanks to computers, this becomes easier to do every year.

      This doesn't change and has been fought against unsuccessfully ever since the Revolutionary War. Screw the troops. Fire and forget.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Nov 2015 @ 4:28am

    we will kill all the veterans because their tattoos violate IP.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Nov 2015 @ 12:46pm

    I favor this action. The DoD gives freely of the military seals but only if asked. Those who simply use the seals without permission are implying an endorsement by the military. Congress should know better.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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