US Armed Forces Step Up Efforts to Enforce Trademarks

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.

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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.