US Armed Forces Step Up Efforts to Enforce Trademarks

USMC
As reported by the New York Times, branches of the US armed forces are increasing their efforts to enforce military trademarks.

Numerous commercial products and services not actually associated with the military make use of military logos and mottos.

These products include insignia for the “Star Fleet Marines,” sold on a Star Trek fan site, as well as Marine-logo underwear and “Leathernecks” toilet wipes.

The fan site agreed to remove the Marine logo from its products but continued to use the marine name, as seen above.  (The name “marine” is descriptive of a type of military unit and is not unique to the US Marine Corps.)

The Pentagon has responded to the use of military-related marks by having its trademark attorneys send “cease-and-desist” letters to infringers.

The Marines already hold at least 68 registered trademarks and are continuing to get more, at an increasing pace: one mark in 2003, four in 2008, and nine from 2010 to 2011.

See Also:  US Navy Tops Fortune 500 Companies in Patents

In 2013 The Marines licensed the trademark, “Pain is weakness leaving the body,” for use on water bottles.

See Also: What Is A Trademark? 

Walt Disney Co. tried to register the mark “SEAL Team Six” for items including toys, videogames, snow globes, and Christmas stockings – two days after the unit’s mission to kill Osama bin Laden became public.

Disney said it was considering producing a TV series about the elite unit.

In response to Disney’s application, the Navy filed its own trademark registrations for “SEAL Team” and “Navy SEALs.”

Disney later agreed to withdraw its trademark application, “out of deference to the Navy.”

Registering military marks allows the US government to collect licensing revenues.  The Marines have collected $5.4 million in trademark licensing fees since 2009.

The Army increased its number of licenses from 120 in 2011 to 265 in 2013.

If you have questions about the use of military-related logos, symbols, or slogans, or if you are interesting in licensing government-owned intellectual property for consumer use, it’s always best to consult with an attorney to avoid potential trademark infringement.


Leech Tishman’s Intellectual Property attorneys are dedicated to the protection and monetization of your ideas and innovations. Many of our registered patent attorneys have advanced degrees enabling them to truly understand the complex technical details of your idea. Several bring engineering expertise, others molecular biology, manufacturing and business acumen to your trademark, copyright, patent prosecution and litigation and trade secret issues, both domestic and international.
Our clients range from individual inventors, authors and owners of creative works to entrepreneurial enterprises, government entities, mid-sized corporations and Global 500 companies with operations throughout North and Central America, Europe, South Asia, the Far East and Australia.
We have serviced a vast array of industries including automotive, cosmetics, e-commerce, electronics, entertainment, fashion, food and beverage, furniture, internet, manufacturing, networks, optics, publishing, software, technology, toys, and wireless.
We are committed to providing you with strategic counseling and personal attention throughout the entire life cycle of your project.
We are proud of our longstanding relationships with local innovation communities and enjoy working with entrepreneurs and businesses who wish to protect their ideas and good names.
Please contact us today for a free consultation at (855) UR- IDEAS or (626) 796-4000.

Disclaimer: We fully comply with all laws related to attorney marketing and this posting is considered an advertisement.

Photo Attribution: Seal of the United States Marine Corps. As a work of the U.S. federal government, the image is in the public domain.

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When Does Trade Secret Theft Become a Federal Crime?

handcuffsTrade secret theft is generally addressed through civil lawsuits. However, in some cases, the misappropriation of trade secrets can rise to the level of a federal crime.

The Economic Espionage Act of 1996 criminalizes trade secret theft committed for personal benefit within the country or for the benefit of a foreign government.

Section 1831 addresses foreign economic espionage and requires that the theft of a trade secret be done to benefit a foreign government, instrumentality, or agent.

The elements of the crime include:

  • The defendant intended or knew his actions would benefit a foreign government, foreign instrumentality, or foreign agent;
  • The defendant knowingly received, bought, or possessed a trade secret, knowing the same to have been stolen or appropriated, obtained, or converted without authorization; and
  • The item/information was, in fact, a trade secret.

Meanwhile, Section 1832 involves the misappropriation of a trade secret with the intent to convert the trade secret to the economic benefit of anyone other than the owner and to injure the owner of the trade secret. The elements of the crime include:

  • The defendant intended to convert a trade secret to the economic benefit of anyone other than the owner;
  • The defendant knowingly received, bought, or possessed a trade secret, knowing the same to have been stolen or appropriated, obtained, or converted without authorization;
  • The item/information was, in fact, a trade secret;
  • The defendant intended, or knew, the offense would injure the owner of the trade secret; and
  • The trade secret was related to or included in a product that is produced for or placed in interstate or foreign commerce.

Of course, prosecutors will not pursue every case that meets the above criteria. As detailed by the Department of Justice, U.S. Attorneys will evaluate evidence of involvement by foreign agents, the type of trade secret involved, the degree of economic injury, the effectiveness of civil remedies, and the potential deterrent value before deciding whether to bring a criminal action.

Protecting against trade secret misappropriation should not just be an important priority for the federal government, but for all businesses. To make sure you are protected, contact us today by phone or email to schedule your free 30-minute consultation.

Leech Tishman’s Intellectual Property attorneys are dedicated to the protection and monetization of your ideas and innovations. Many of our registered patent attorneys have advanced degrees enabling him or her to truly understand the complex technical details of your idea.  Several bring engineering expertise, others molecular biology, manufacturing and business to your trademark, copyright, patent prosecution and litigation and trade secret issues, both domestic and international.
Our clients range from individual inventors, authors and owners of creative works to entrepreneurial enterprises, government entities, mid-sized corporations and Global 500 companies with operations throughout North and Central America, Europe, South Asia, the Far East and Australia.
We have serviced a vast array of industries including automotive, cosmetics, e-commerce, electronics, entertainment, fashion, food and beverage, furniture, internet, manufacturing, networks, optics, publishing, software, technology, toys, and wireless.
We are committed to providing you with strategic counseling and personal attention throughout the entire life cycle of your project.
We are proud of our longstanding relationships with local innovation communities and enjoy working with entrepreneurs and businesses who wish to protect their ideas and good names.
Please contact us today for a free consultation at (855) UR- IDEAS or (855) 874-3327.

Disclaimer: We fully comply with all laws related to attorney marketing and this posting is considered an advertisement.

Trademark Registration: USPTO Looks Into “Proof of Use”

USPTO Seal According to intellectual property law, a trademark owner is required to regularly provide evidence of the “use of the mark” in connection with a bona fide offering for sale of goods or services.

Too often, however, registered marks are no longer used or have never been used in connection with the goods or services they identified on their registration.

As a result, companies looking to name new goods and services may find that their options are limited by the presence of these dusty “shelf” marks. The unused marks provide no real value to the original registrants, yet prevent other companies from using a form of intellectual property that could benefit their products or services.

To deal with this issue – or at least investigate its extent – the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is conducting a pilot study on “Post Registration Proof of Use.”

Under US trademark practice, registrants must submit a “declaration of continued use” between the fifth and sixth years after a federal trademark is registered.  This is a simple filing involving an affidavit and a single specimen of the mark being used on goods or services.

In the pilot study, the USPTO selected 500 trademark registrations at random, “to assess the accuracy and integrity of the trademark register as to the actual use of the mark with the goods and/or services identified in the registration.”

The USPTO asked each registrant to submit proof of actual use of the mark for two additional goods or services per class.  If registrants were unable to do so, the USPTO subjected the registration to additional proof-of-use requirements.

The study revealed that, with 94% of the test group responding, about half the registrations failed to meet the initial proof-of-use requirements.

The result was that the USPTO deleted certain goods or services from the failed registrations, or cancelled the entire registrations.

Attorney Laura Lloyd, Ph.D. says,

It is important to list the description of goods and services correctly on a trademark application to prevent the possibility of cancellation of the trademark in the future.

The eye-opening results of this pilot study led the USPTO to note with approval four suggestions for reform discussed at a recent roundtable discussion at George Washington University Law School on “The Future of the Use-Based [Trademark] Register.”

These suggestions included:

  • A streamlined non-use expungement process;
  • Requiring specimens for all listed goods and/or services;
  • Increasing the “solemnity” of the declaration regarding use; and
  • Conducting random audits of declarations.

The USPTO is inviting comments on this issue and potential solutions. Comments may be sent to TMPolicy@uspto.gov.

Even before the USPTO makes changes, if a foreign-based trademark application with a broad description of goods is blocking a US trademark registration, the US applicant can challenge the prior mark via the cancellation process.

If you have questions about “use” requirements for trademarks, or challenging prior marks, contact our office for a free initial consultation.

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Leech Tishman’s Intellectual Property attorneys are dedicated to the protection and monetization of your ideas and innovations. Many of our registered patent attorneys have advanced degrees enabling them to truly understand the complex technical details of your idea. Several bring engineering expertise, others molecular biology, manufacturing and business acumen to your trademark, copyright, patent prosecution and litigation and trade secret issues, both domestic and international.
Our clients range from individual inventors, authors and owners of creative works to entrepreneurial enterprises, government entities, mid-sized corporations and Global 500 companies with operations throughout North and Central America, Europe, South Asia, the Far East and Australia.
We have serviced a vast array of industries including automotive, cosmetics, e-commerce, electronics, entertainment, fashion, food and beverage, furniture, internet, manufacturing, networks, optics, publishing, software, technology, toys, and wireless.
We are committed to providing you with strategic counseling and personal attention throughout the entire life cycle of your project.
We are proud of our longstanding relationships with local innovation communities and enjoy working with entrepreneurs and businesses who wish to protect their ideas and good names.

Please contact us today for a free consultation at (855) UR- IDEAS or (626) 796-4000.

Disclaimer: We fully comply with all laws related to attorney marketing and this posting is considered an advertisement.

Photo Attribution: “Seal of the United States Patent and Trademark Office” by US Government is in the public domain.