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Friday, 24 October 2008

DoJ bans biker trade mark


The IPKat has learned from the Associated Press that the US Department of Justice has effectively seized control of the trade mark of the Mongols motorcycle gang, a picture of a Mongolian warrior wearing sunglasses. The gang appears to have been engaged in violent crime, and at the same time as the injunction banning the use of the trade mark, 79 gang members were indicted. Although the injunction banning the logo originally cracked down on distribution or sale of the logo, it now states that gang members "shall surrender for seizure all products, clothing, vehicles, motorcycles ... or other materials bearing the Mongols trademark, upon presentation of a copy of this order."

The Office of the US Attorney has said that it is drafting a protocol for such seizures, but others have cricised the moves as interfering with free speech.

The IPKat is relatively sanguine about this. He agrees that free speech is a serious consideration where a trade mark offends others. However, this mark seems more than offensive – it seems like it could incite wearers and others to commit violence. Surely this outweighs free speech? The Kat also notes that such moves might be unknown in the US, but in the UK, wearing clothing bearing the insignia of a banned group can result in an offence against anti-terrorist legislation.

1 comment:

geeklawyer said...

"it seems like it could incite wearers and others to commit violence".
How? I am reminded somewhat of Arsenal v Reed. This seems like that but with drugs & violence. But this is a badge of loyalty and while it may have perverse brand value I can't see that it directly causes violence (barring run-ins with rivals).

In the EU I'd be looking at an Article 8 ECHR claim against the feds.

Sure the Mongols might not be the people to invite to your wedding but illegality of the mark can't properly be tainted by the notoriety of the owners - otherwise why would McDonald's have a TM? Though I'm a little puzzled as to what trade and class a motorcycle gang would be in ;)

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