We received a contact-form message from West Point’s Intellectual Property Attorney informing us that our use of the West Point Crest on this website is (now “was”, as we have modified our site) unlawful.
Excellent work making the correction!
We applaud the Army’s scrupulous protection of our rule of law by spending the time and attention to put this small blog on notice for trademark infringement (after all, remember: “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic“). We also appreciate the reminder that the force of the government may be employed against said blog for other perceived slights.
At the same time, we certainly do not want anyone to think we are affiliated with the Academy. Heavens no!
So if you were misled and thought that we were somehow “licensed, sponsored, or endorsed by USMA”, we clarify: We are not.
6 thoughts on “For Those Confused:”
Well done. Your messages are clearly getting through and reaching an ever increasing audience. KEEP.UP THE GOOD WORK!! Williams is weak sycophantic leader, more interested in post military remuneration from progressive military contractors than protecting the ethical and moral principles West Point, has until the last several decades, championed.
Disappointed but not surprised by the lack of response to the excellent commentary posted here. The “powers that be” have long since forgotten that they are the trustees, not the owners, of all that we hold dear about West Point. Whatever happened to a response from the Black graduates who wrote about the systemic racism that they experienced as cadets? Whatever happened to an investigation of the spring break drug use issue?
I am not sure USMA prohibiting use of the crest is legal. Your claiming to be West Point would be common law fraud. But using it to claim to be graduates or even to claim to be particularly interested in West Point as citizens strikes me as moral and it ought to be legal. Your disclaimer near every use of the crest strikes me as sufficient to eliminate any harm to anyone.
I have litigated trademark, common law trademark, Lanham Act, and trade dress civil cases. I am not a lawyer, but have been in various courts for 51 years. But those all related to your making profits by misleading customers into thinking you are West Point. As far as I know, you are not involved in commerce. And I would have thought, neither is USMA. And if you are not selling anything or anything that would profit you more if you misled the customers into thinking you were West Point, I fail to see the harm to USMA.
In a civil case, you generally need to prove damages. What damage has USMA suffered from your use of the crest? Could you use a photograph of YOUR, I repeat YOUR class ring, instead of the crest per se? Or how about an AOG membership card with the crest on it or your credit card with a West Point photo on it.
Publications by USMA I suspect cannot be copyrighted. They were created by the government with taxpayer funds so they are in the public domain and that means anyone can use them without compensating the government. That suggests similar treatment for common law and USPTO trademark and trade dress.
Also, there is the Mickey Mouse issue. Copyrights expire. So do patents and trademarks. Congress keeps extending the life of the Mickey Mouse copyright every time the expiration approaches. Disney invented MM in the early 20th century. USMA began in 1802. Not sure when they adopted the current crest. The owner also has to prevent improper use. In the case of trademark, they need to renew it every 10 years. If they missed that deadline once, they may have lost the TM.
The Frigidaire company lost that trademark because it became generic for refrigerator. Realtors® constantly sue to keep that word from becoming generic.
It may be that there is a court decision that says USMA can sue you for trademark violations. My cases were me versus one of my competitors.
John T. Reed ’68
If you had copyrighted or trademarked material, you would protect it too.
I am surprised that a West Point grad would hide behind a handle instead of give his name. I am also surprised that this website allows such. It is further evidence of the truth of a web article I wrote: https://johntreed.com/blogs/john-t-reed-s-blog-about-military-matters/68983747-the-u-s-military-gives-no-medals-for-moral-courage. One early web site labelled all such posters “anonymous cowards.”
John T. Reed ’68
Also, I own thousands of copyrights and some trademarks. I filed one copyright federal lawsuit. I lost on summary judgment. Court said the copying had to be verbatim rejecting my memo of law which relied on the legal theory called “conscious parallelism.” I would welcome an actual lawsuit by USMA if there are no controlling decisions already on this point. In other words, I would tell USMA to bring it and make the arguments I made above to the court. I might win. I suspect the effort YoungOldGrad’s made to understand copyright and trademark law would not fill the navel of a gnat.