Wars’ End Sparks Increased Interest In Military Brands and Trademarks

by T+B Blog Team on May 30, 2014

The war in Afghanistan may be winding down and military operations in Iraq are over, but it seems that another battle is looming on the horizon. Members of the United States Marine Corps are looking to trademark and cash in on their affiliation with the U.S. armed forces, in the hope of attaining their own version of the American dream, Helene Cooper writes in The New York Times.

The craze for military brands has upset the Pentagon’s trademark lawyers, who have been busy sending cease-and-desist letters to safeguard their brands from similar logos on items, including toilet paper marketed as Leatherneck Wipes, that don’t always convey a sense of honor and respect to U.S. troops. While taking measures to protect their brands, the attorneys are also rushing to register patriotic trademarks. In 2013 alone, the USPTO received 68 trademark requests for items like Guadalcanal sweatshirts and “Pain Is Weakness Leaving the Body” water bottles.

There were few instances of military trademarks registered by the Marines between 2003 and 2008, but things started to change after American soldiers returned from Iraq and then Afghanistan. The raid of the Navy Seals that killed Osama bin Laden in May 2011 was just the tip of the iceberg, prompting Disney to claim rights to the phrase SEAL Team Six and the Navy immediately moved to trademark “SEAL team” and “Navy SEALs.”

The rush for U.S. military trademarks did not end there, with the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines all witnessing a huge increase in military branding efforts in 2012 in 2013 as many soldiers returned home and established their own small firms. Patriotism has run high the past 10 years and many people leaving service are deciding to go into business and share how proud they are of having been a U.S. troop, Philip Greene, the Marine’s trademark counsel, told the newspaper.

The Marine Corps allows members to use certain military brands in return for a licensing fee. The service has raised $5.4 million from these fees since 2009, of which $700,000 was transferred to a morale, welfare, and recreation fund in 2013.

What military-related brands have you noticed recently?

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