On December 12, 2013, Members of the House and Senate introduced bipartisan legislation that would allow the United States or any state or local government to register official insignia for federal trademark protection. Congressmen Hakeem Jeffries (NY-8) and Ted Poe (TX-2) introduced H.R. 3713 in the House and Senators Amy Klobuchar (MN), Charles Schumer (NY) and Mike Lee (UT) introduced identical companion legislation in the Senate.
“As a nation of laws, the protection of our trademark statutes should extend to the United States government and other official entities throughout the country,” said Rep. Hakeem Jeffries. “We cherish the American flag in our hearts, but it should also be respected by the law. This legislation will accomplish that objective by extending trademark protection to the flag as well as other official insignia of this country and the unique states that make up our republic.”
This bill would amend the Trademark Act of 1946, also known as the Lanham Act, to allow the Federal government as well as all State and local governments to register with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) marks consisting of their flag, coat of arms and other official seals.
“State and local governments (including local law enforcement) should have the ability to be protected by federal trademark laws,” said Rep. Poe (TX-2). “Producing counterfeit items with the logo of a local government or law enforcement agency should not be a source of profit, it should be a crime.”
Currently, the Trademark Act of 1946 does not include federal protections for official flags and other such emblems. Local governments have expressed support for legislation on this critical issue. In June 2012, the United States Conference of Mayors adopted a resolution asking Congress to pass this legislation.
“Our City seal is a very strong indicator of official government authority. It’s at the center of our law enforcement badges, on official documents and flags, and is carved into our buildings. The current state of the Lanham Act offers little Federal protection for cities, counties, and states in protecting these official marks from fraud and abuse. After 9/11, we could readily prosecute counterfeiters and infringers who trafficked in the FDNY or NYPD marks, but when an item carries our seal, we had no such ability,” said Michael A Cardozo, Corporation Counsel of the New York City Law Department. “The bills introduced today by Congressman Jeffries and Senator Klobuchar make a long overdue technical correction to the Lanham Act, and grants City and State insignia the same protection under the law as corporate logos like Apple or Nike. On behalf of New York City, I thank them for their leadership on this common-sense legislation.”
Full text of H.R. 3713 can be read HERE.