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(The Volokh Conspiracy)   In case you were wondering, it's not illegal to sell anti-NSA shirts that use the NSA logo   (volokh.com) divider line 22
    More: Interesting, public laws, cease and desist letter, shirts, logos  
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5146 clicks; posted to Main » on 03 Sep 2013 at 8:52 AM (51 weeks ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



22 Comments   (+0 »)
   
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2013-09-03 08:27:04 AM
Apparently, the NSA doesn't know that.

What would be really great is if pretty much everyone in the US wore or had parody NSA logos on a bunch of stuff.  Water down their trademark by parody.
 
2013-09-03 08:58:48 AM
Seems according to the article that Zazzle received a complaint years ago about a non parody copy. Zazzle on their own stopped this new seller due to their misunderstanding of the previous request.
 
2013-09-03 09:15:20 AM
Shouldn't the NSA (can I use that abbreviation??) know that the guy was making those T-shirst and already had him bundled off in the black helicopters and avoided all this foolishness?

NSA...you disappoint
 
2013-09-03 09:17:58 AM
it is also not illegal to wear a tee shirt that says FARK THE TSA!!!
 
2013-09-03 09:25:32 AM
Actually, there *are* civil laws on the books regarding reproducing official Federal logos if you're not formally representing that agency. Years ago I did some contract software work for the DOD and I had to get written permission to use their logo in software even though the software was written specifically for their own use. I know NASA has the same protection, and I'm sure the NSA does as well


This is an obvious parody though.
 
2013-09-03 09:51:58 AM
The government can and does change laws to suit their needs. Radio licensing information is public information and available to the anyone, the Feds created a new agency for government users and made that data unavailable.
 
2013-09-03 09:55:25 AM

maxheck: Actually, there *are* civil laws on the books regarding reproducing official Federal logos if you're not formally representing that agency. Years ago I did some contract software work for the DOD and I had to get written permission to use their logo in software even though the software was written specifically for their own use. I know NASA has the same protection, and I'm sure the NSA does as well


This is an obvious parody though.


Is it? I mean, the NSA is wandering into Poe's Law territory here. Just how obvious is it, given the NSA's already mustache-twirling levels of villainy?
 
2013-09-03 10:03:10 AM
If the law were as allegedly quoted by the NSA, the USPS would be in trouble; NSA is a common endorsement used to indicate "No Such Address"

/As opposed to "No Such Agency"
 
2013-09-03 10:25:32 AM

dittybopper: Apparently, the NSA doesn't know that.


But see the second statement:
"NSA has not sent a cease and desist letter to Zazzle since March 2011 regarding a mug they were selling using the NSA Seal.   At any time that NSA is made aware that the NSA Seal is being used without our permission, we will take appropriate actions."

It sounds more like Zazzle took the shirt down themselves in order to increase publicity for "the shirt the NSA doesn't want you to own!! Buy now!"
 
2013-09-03 10:41:50 AM

dittybopper: Apparently, the NSA doesn't know that.

What would be really great is if pretty much everyone in the US wore or had parody NSA logos on a bunch of stuff.  Water down their trademark by parody.


Pretty sure it's not trademarked...
 
2013-09-03 10:42:54 AM
This text is now purple:
Is it? I mean, the NSA is wandering into Poe's Law territory here.


We at the FBI do not have a sense of humor that we are aware of.
 
2013-09-03 10:54:17 AM

maxheck: Actually, there *are* civil laws on the books regarding reproducing official Federal logos if you're not formally representing that agency. Years ago I did some contract software work for the DOD and I had to get written permission to use their logo in software even though the software was written specifically for their own use. I know NASA has the same protection, and I'm sure the NSA does as well


This is an obvious parody though.


And it is well-established that parody is protected speech under the First Amendment.
 
2013-09-03 10:54:20 AM

nickerj1: dittybopper: Apparently, the NSA doesn't know that.

What would be really great is if pretty much everyone in the US wore or had parody NSA logos on a bunch of stuff.  Water down their trademark by parody.

Pretty sure it's not trademarked...


This is why you're stuck on the patent side of the office. ;)
 
2013-09-03 11:37:25 AM
Cybernetic:

maxheck: Actually, there *are* civil laws on the books regarding reproducing official Federal logos if you're not formally representing that agency. Years ago I did some contract software work for the DOD and I had to get written permission to use their logo in software even though the software was written specifically for their own use. I know NASA has the same protection, and I'm sure the NSA does as well


This is an obvious parody though.

And it is well-established that parody is protected speech under the First Amendment.


Which is why I mentioned it. I *could* see reason for a "cease and desist" if they had reproduced the logo exactly and put a funny tagline under the unaltered logo, but that's not what they did.
 
2013-09-03 11:39:21 AM
YOU'LL NEVER TAKE ME ALIVE COPPER!!
i43.tinypic.com
i40.tinypic.com
i43.tinypic.com
i39.tinypic.com
i40.tinypic.com
 
2013-09-03 12:06:14 PM
The only part of government that actually listens.
So close to the truth its sad.
 
2013-09-03 01:09:58 PM
Zazzle removed it, but CafePress still does, so I imagine that CP will do a killing...

Too bad out of all of that list of shirts, only 2 were made in the USA, according to their own site...
 
Ni
2013-09-03 02:42:56 PM
Naturally, the NSA will be recording the names of everyone who buys one.
 
2013-09-03 04:34:42 PM

Theaetetus: nickerj1: dittybopper: Apparently, the NSA doesn't know that.

What would be really great is if pretty much everyone in the US wore or had parody NSA logos on a bunch of stuff.  Water down their trademark by parody.

Pretty sure it's not trademarked...

This is why you're stuck on the patent side of the office. ;)


Federal, state, and city seals are generally not registered trademarks, no?  It's just illegal (according to the respective laws of the political subdivison) to misrepresent yourself using them if you're not an actual agent of that respective government.
 
2013-09-03 05:27:42 PM

nickerj1: Theaetetus: nickerj1: dittybopper: Apparently, the NSA doesn't know that.

What would be really great is if pretty much everyone in the US wore or had parody NSA logos on a bunch of stuff.  Water down their trademark by parody.

Pretty sure it's not trademarked...

This is why you're stuck on the patent side of the office. ;)

Federal, state, and city seals are generally not registered trademarks, no?  It's just illegal (according to the respective laws of the political subdivison) to misrepresent yourself using them if you're not an actual agent of that respective government.


Not registered, and not registrable by others... But that's just the primary register. Lanham 43(a) still gives a cause of action for any use in commerce of a mark (or seal) that would lead to a likelihood of confusion regarding approval, authorization, etc., regardless of whether it's registered or not. So, for example, if you used the NSA seal to sell "official" NSA t-shirts (even without representing yourself as an NSA agent, but just an authorized retailer), they could come after you for violation of 15 usc 1125, just like McDonald's could come after you for your McBurger store. And we'd typically consider violations of 43(a) trademark violations, even without registration.

As an aside, there are also some states that allow state suits for trademark infringement, despite no state having a trademark registry. :)
 
2013-09-03 05:49:22 PM
That's a great shirt.
 
2013-09-03 08:02:58 PM

Theaetetus: nickerj1: Theaetetus: nickerj1: dittybopper: Apparently, the NSA doesn't know that.

What would be really great is if pretty much everyone in the US wore or had parody NSA logos on a bunch of stuff.  Water down their trademark by parody.

Pretty sure it's not trademarked...

This is why you're stuck on the patent side of the office. ;)

Federal, state, and city seals are generally not registered trademarks, no?  It's just illegal (according to the respective laws of the political subdivison) to misrepresent yourself using them if you're not an actual agent of that respective government.

Not registered, and not registrable by others... But that's just the primary register. Lanham 43(a) still gives a cause of action for any use in commerce of a mark (or seal) that would lead to a likelihood of confusion regarding approval, authorization, etc., regardless of whether it's registered or not. So, for example, if you used the NSA seal to sell "official" NSA t-shirts (even without representing yourself as an NSA agent, but just an authorized retailer), they could come after you for violation of 15 usc 1125, just like McDonald's could come after you for your McBurger store. And we'd typically consider violations of 43(a) trademark violations, even without registration.

As an aside, there are also some states that allow state suits for trademark infringement, despite no state having a trademark registry. :)


It's a good thing that the mug doesn't have the seal of the NSA on it.

/unless the NSA seal has the words "Peeping while you're sleeping" on it
 
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