Feds Lose $250K in Attempt To Steal Motorcycle Club’s Logo, Then Try Again

Reason 24/7ReasonIt takes a special talent to combine abuse of asset forfeiture with a free speech violation, and to blow a wad of cash while doing it, but the federal government is certainly up to the task. In its crusade against the Mongols Motorcycle Club and the group's (allegedly) criminal activities, the Department of Justice decided to use asset forfeiture in an effort to seize the organization's distinctive logo of a stylized Mongol warrior on a motorcycle. The goal, apparently, was a symbolic victory that would strip the group's members of the right to use the image.

But an image is how you you present yourself, which would seem to be an exercise of First Amendment-protected free speech rights, isn't it? At least, that's how a federal judge saw it, right before he ordered the federal government to reimburse the motorcycle club's attorneys to the tune of $253,206.

So, the feds being the feds, they're just doubling down.

From the Bend Bulletin:

WASHINGTON — Federal prosecutors just lost a quarter of a million dollars trying to take away the Mongols Motorcycle Club trademark. Now they’re trying again.

Revving up an unusual free speech case, prosecutors in Southern California filed racketeering charges against the related Mongol Nation in February. No one will go to jail if prosecutors prevail in what appears to be a long-shot case. In theory, though, the federal government could end up owning the trademark that it’s been chasing for years.

“I’m not aware of any other case where the government has sought forfeiture in this way,” David Loy, the legal director of the ACLU Foundation of San Diego and Imperial Counties, said in an interview this week. “I have concerns about the case.”

Prosecutors consider the Mongols’ trademark name and logo of a ponytailed man riding a motorcycle to be signs of a criminal enterprise

Note that, even if the federal government somehow wins in its efforts to seize the Mongols Motorcycle Club's logo, it will have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on a tactic that does nothing at all to prevent or solve crimes of any sort. The Mongols could just make up new patches, or do without them entirely. And the rest of us would get to wonder just how secure our trademarks are if we piss off the feds.

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  • Nazdrakke||

    Mercy, please.. I can't take anymore stupid today..

  • Aresen||

    Peak stupid is properly defined as "What did the Government do this week?"

  • Jayce||

    I hope you have a lot of mylanta. The government never runs out of stupid.

  • Hugh Akston||

    The government shouldn't be able to own any trademarks anyway.

  • Live Free or Diet||

    The government shouldn't be able to.

    I love Occam's Razor.

  • Austrian Anarchy||

    Maybe this is old, maybe it was superseded since the 1990s, or maybe I have a bad memory. But I thought that government patents and copyrights became public domain?

  • Austrian Anarchy||

    This is not exactly clear: http://www.gpo.gov/help/public.....notice.htm

    This is not much more clear: http://www.usa.gov/copyright.shtml

    Since the logo was not created by fed employees, nothing in those two links really addresses usage and they don't address trademarks.

  • ||

    And the rest of us would get to wonder just how secure our trademarks are if we piss off the feds.

    Whoa there, Tucille, are you coming out in favor of IP?

    It's like I don't even know who my mostly assumed vision of you is anymore...

  • jdtuccille||

    Given the existence of the current IP regime, the feds can not only take your logo, they can also keep you from using it. So IP law matters, whatever I may think of it.

  • ||

    Oh most definitely.

  • Hugh Akston||

    JD probably can quote Keats and Virgil from memory, he probably is hung like a mule, but he probably doesn't ride around shirtless on the back of a white horse as much as you imagine.

  • ||

    Don't be ridiculous. She doesn't imagine him riding around shirtless.

  • ||

    I'm the one who gets to ride the horse, you morons.

  • ||

    What? I was told it's a mule.

  • ||

    That's only for her one-woman show in Tijuana.

  • ||

    The mule is shirtless.

  • Generic Stranger||

    As mules are wont to be.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    My name is Mulatto, M-U-L-A-T-T-O.

    I don't think it's so hard to spell.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Federal prosecutors just lost a quarter of a million dollars trying to take away the Mongols Motorcycle Club trademark.

    Federal prosecutors just lost a quarter of a million taxpayer dollars. The prosecutors themselves didn't lose a fucking thing, probably not even face amongst their peers.

  • Aresen||

    "Good try, Counsellor Hapless, here's another million to try again."

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    Don't attorneys usually risk being disbarred for shit like this?

    And if the federal cunternment did get "legal rights" to the logo, shouldn't it then become public domain?

  • ||

    1. No, though obviously they should.

    2. I'm sure it wouldn't, though it obviously should. This is actually a good question though. I really don't see how the government can trademark anything for itself. I mean other than FYTW.

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    I was thinking refiling a lawsuit after it has already lost should be called professional misconduct.

  • ||

    Well how else are they supposed to use their endless funding and time to wear down whoever they're trying to fuck with?

  • db||

    Is their argument that the logo trademark is an asset, and therefore can be forfeited under asset forfeiture laws if used in association with the commission of a crime?

  • Ken Shultz||

    "The Mongols could just make up new patches, or do without them entirely."

    Doing without them entirely would be tough. I don't think you're an MC if you don't have patches.

  • Sigivald||

    More accurately, wouldn't it just be that the Mongols would continue to wear their patches in a great big "fuck you" to the State?

    I don't think they're worried about being cited for trademark violation individually - especially since it'd be difficult to show damage to the Federal owner, who does not use the trademark for anything and indeed wasn't the original user.

    This is a baffling waste of money.

    (And no, I don't know where the idea came from that "everything the government owns is public domain". Government research and the like is all public, but that's because of legislation that says it has to be released, is it not?

    Try selling things with the NASA logo on them, see how that goes over.)

  • ||

    Well I didn't say it was public domain, just that it should be, because I fucking pay for it.

    Anyway, you bring up an interesting point about the government not using the trademark--if they successfully seized it, wouldn't they have to use it for something in order to maintain its validity?

  • Sevo||

    IANAL, but I recently read one has to be used every X (7?) years to keep it.
    One reason Ferrari recycles car names that have zero to do with the new cars; if they don't, "Testa Rosa" will show up on a Kia next year.

  • Archduke Pantsfan||

    Does that mean we'll have another Pontiac Aztek soon?

  • Sevo||

    Pretty sure Gov't Motors hopes Kia does grab that one.

  • grey||

    NASA story, not my own, but too good not to share. Friend had manufactured collector coin business, made a memorial coin of the Challenger Shuttle. Tastless. He wrote NASA and asks them to "approve" the coin. Attorney wrote back and siad, 'We can't stop you.' He was so proud, he hung the letter in a frame like it was a certification letter.

  • Austrian Anarchy||

    Thought there was some law in the past 20 years or so that restricted use of some agency names. Can't sell unlicensed FBI hats and such?

  • grey||

    http://www.nasa.gov/offices/ogc/ip/logo.html

    http://www.usa.gov/copyright.shtml

    "U.S. law may prohibit the reproduction of designated logos of U.S. government agencies without permission. Use restrictions of such logos must be followed and permission obtained before use, if required. However, this does not affect the copyright status, because as works of the federal government, they are automatically in the public domain. These should be tagged with {{insignia}}." - Ambiguous statement from Wiki.

    Browsed around and am none the wiser. Can someone create an FBI wall plaque commemorating J.E. Hoover and use the logo or just FBI or Hoover's picture? The answer seem to be surely perhaps maybe yes and no. It seems like some limited LOGO protections and some limits on how you use the name, but also a lot of wiggle room. Note how sources do state - No Copyright...yet discuss limitations.

    Confusing.

  • Jayce||

    "This is a baffling waste of money."

    Nah, its stimulating the economy.

  • JeremyR||

    It's not like the money comes out of their salary or anything. When you are playing with other people's money, there's no penalty for doing stupid things with it.

  • Sevo||

    ..."it will have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on a tactic that does nothing at all to prevent or solve crimes of any sort."...

    Well, what's your point?

  • Archduke Pantsfan||

    Congrats Fox Sports on getting the best pair of sports anchordesk guys on the planet.

  • Ted S.||

    If Gus Johnson is doing the CL final they really need to teach him how to pronounce those foreign names properly.

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    Lets not forget, though, that Harley riders are faggots. Brbrbrrbrbrbrbrbr.

  • Hugh Akston||

    I'll have you know that Epi is bike curious.

  • ||

    "I ain't no bike-curious. I'm a man's man!"

  • Hyperion||

    No, mostly they're just old balding impotent dudes that had money to spend on a bike and think they are now mega cool for having one, and so can now actually get wimins.

  • Hugh Akston||

    I always thought, someday when I grow up, I'm gonna get a Harley! Then people will have to notice me, and then they'll have to deal with my shit for once.
    The open road! The wind on my face! I'll go from city to city. Everyone looking at me! Who's that guy. He must be tough. I'll have my girl on the backseat holding on to my fat belly. Sure, she's missing a few teeth, but she thinks I'm cool. That's why, when I grow up, I'm gonna be a Harley rider.

  • Hyperion||

    I'd rather be noticed, you know, if I just HAVE TO be noticed, with 4 wheels under my ass, but that's just me.

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    Oh, that's too bad. Someone should break it to them that the only women that are attracted to fat, aging hippies are aging hippie women.

  • ||

    A not-so-bright woman I know who has 4 children and a bike riding husband told me she thought the local outlaw biker gang was cool. She and her family live on a small income.

    I said " Real men go to jobs and take care of their families. They dont have time to play dress up with their friends and run the roads."

    For a few seconds she seemed crushed, but I could see the wheels turning and then the look on her face told me that she was glad her husband was a wannabe biker who has a job.

  • anon||

    Real outlaws don't have time for that shit.

  • grey||

    Only one South Park reference per blog and its already used. Dammit.

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    Simpsons already did it.

  • ||

    Is Obama planning on taking over the Playboy Bunny icon for his daughters' sweet sixteens?

  • Austrian Anarchy||

    I took him to be more of a Gent or Cheri man.

  • Hyperion||

    NR, as my typical style, does anyone here know anything about this guy?

    I have driven by the protestors several times on my way home from work, and again today.

    Haven't had much time to research, just know that they are saying that they guy is being held because he's been reporting on abuses by the Baltimore police. Not that I believe such a thing could ever happen... just curious.

    James MacArthur, political prisoner?

  • ||

    Stewart said that MacArthur was a "threat to society"

    More likely a threat to the police state.

    OTOH by not showing up for a court date he made it easy for the cops. Someone who does exposes on cops have to be squeaky clean. Even that isn't an assurance of anything, but missing a court date is like handing it to the cops on a platter.

  • Hyperion||

    It sounds like the guy has been in that fucking draconian looking hole(have you ever seen that jail?), for 6 months. For missing a court date? Are you kidding me? And then there might be a trumped up gun charge(real surprise in anti-gun MD).

    I don't know... I'm too curious to find out more now.

    Guy could be a total ass and loser, I don't know, but I for some reason, not really sure why, I am highly suspicious of anything that involves citizen abuse by the police and the courts.

  • ||

    I agree with you; the only point I was trying to make is that investigative reporting on the cops is a dangerous business and one ought to cover one's ass as much as possible. Or that's what I would try to do if I would have the courage to dig up dirt on the cops.

  • Hyperion||

    Understand. I can't really comment more until I learn more about this. I drove by these protesters for several days and then again today, it finally got my curiosity going.

    The prison looks like a medieval fortress with razor wire decorations, It's truly scary looking. If I knew they were taking me there, they would probably have to kill me on the way there. not any fucking place you ever want to be.

  • ||

    I can't really comment more until I learn more about this.

    FWIW: Informed and Dangerous: Why is A. F. James MacArthur in jail?

  • ||

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A._F._James_MacArthur

    He had a 2002 gun crime conviction that prohibited him from having a firearm.

    Then, in 2009 he was arrested for another gun charge.

    When he was arrested in 2012 (what he is currently being held on), they found also found a sawed off shotgun, so that would be several counts of VUFA - felon in possession of a firearm, as well as an illegal short barreled shotgun etc.

    Seems like a very inventive guy in his use of social media during his arrest.

    And of course, we are talking Baltimore, aka Charm city, a city with a horrendous crime rate and a history of all kinds of corrupt city politics.

    I am sure there is LOTS to report on

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    As far as the gun stuff, he hasn't done anything wrong.

  • Hyperion||

    And of course, we are talking Baltimore, aka Charm city, a city with a horrendous crime rate and a history of all kinds of corrupt city politics.

    I am sure there is LOTS to report on

    Yep, and also agree with DR&S, shall not be infringed, how fucking difficult is that to understand?

  • ||

    It's easy to understand. But then, I'm not making a normative argument about what the gun laws would be in perfect world. I am simply explaining the kinds of crimes he's committed.

    And considering that such gun crimes are considered violent felonies, the cops are going to pursue them whatEver an individual cop on that detail might think of such laws.

    As it should be.

  • dinkster||

    "As it should be."

    Yeah. Cancer patients who grow weed should be thrown in fucking federal prison. Quarter inch too short on your shotgun barrel? Prison. This is why I fucking hate cops.

  • Whahappan?||

    You forgot the scare quotes on "crimes."

  • mickyd||

    Funny how those who focus on "shall not be infringed" completely ignore the "well regulated" part.

  • anon||

    I am sure there is LOTS to report on

    Depends on if "newsworthy" is a qualifier for your reporting. There's nothing that could ever happen in Baltimore that I'd consider "newsworthy," unless somehow someone didn't get murdered that day.

  • Ted S.||

    does anyone here know anything about this guy?

    His park is melting in the dark.

  • ||

    All the sweet green icing flowing down!

  • Agammamon||

    Wait . . . wouldn't the federal government gaining control of the logo put it in the public domain? weren't the feds shot down before when trying to stop people copying and making fun of DHS's logo?

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    All government logos should be public. Even the dumbass presidential seal.

  • John C. Randolph||

    I just had a killer idea: toilet paper printed with government logos.. I wonder whether the war department would outsell the DEA?

    -jcr

  • Austrian Anarchy||

    I asked roughly the same thing above, did not see this until I read down.

    This may or may not apply: http://www.gpo.gov/help/public.....notice.htm

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    For anyone that knows anything about hot dogs, is onion sauce a valid loophole for the no ketchup rule? I think it is.

  • jdtuccille||

    Onion sauce is valid, but only on Sabretts.

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    Nathan's. Made my own sauce for the first time but I think I used too much ketchup. It was a small batch so I was winging the measurements.

  • ||

    As long as you are using onions, you can commit no sin. There isnt anything they cant go on or in and you can never have too many of them.

  • anon||

    Being raised in the south myself, I can confirm this statement as 100% fact. If you disagree you are quite simply wrong.

  • John C. Randolph||

    I just have to wonder what in the world the raving bureaucrats who cooked up this scheme thought they'd accomplish. So, a court tells an outlaw motorcycle club that they don't have the "rights" to the insignia they've been using? Do they expect the club to comply? Did they think these guys would say "Oh, shit! We lost our logo! I guess we'll have to sell the bikes, and start driving hybrid cars now."?

    -jcr

  • WomSom||

    Well, we all know the Feds have WAY too much spare time on thier hands!

    www.Total-Anon.tk

  • The Late P Brooks||

    "What are you in for, Kid?"

    "Copyright infringement."

    "Ooooh, scary."

  • ||

    If they were smart they would start a campaign let by actual Mongols (Mongolians?) claiming it's racially and ethnically insensitive.

  • Mr Whipple||

    Yo, fuck the Mongols. Pagans, bitchez.

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