Posts on this blog represent my opinion. It may be my considered opinion on the basis of my formal study of law and technology. But it is not legal advice. It must not be treated as, or acted upon as, legal advice and no liability is accepted for doing so.

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Rebel Without A Trade Mark

I have to take my hat off to the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (as the old joke goes, it sounds like one heck of a fun corner shop) for its efforts to push IP law in bold new directions by seizing the registered trade mark of a biker gang.

“In addition to pursuing the criminal charges set forth in the indictment, for the first time ever, we are seeking to forfeit the intellectual property of a gang,” said United States Attorney Thomas P. O’Brien. “The name ‘Mongols,’ which is part of the gang’s ‘patch’ that members wear on their motorcycle jackets, was trademarked by the gang. ... If the court grants our request for this order, then if any law enforcement officer sees a Mongol wearing his patch, he will be authorized to stop that gang member and literally take the jacket right off his back.”

Of course, US trade mark law is rather different from that in Europe. I can already see the spectre of Arsenal v Reed rising like, er, a rather naff example of biker jacket art, waving the banner of 'badges of affiliation'. After all, exactly what 'service' is a biker gang's logo being used in connection with? And is it in the course of trade?