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: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.
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.
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.