Free Speech

Once Again, the Mongols Motorcycle Club Can Legally Keep Its Patch

The federal attempt to take the patch uniquely combines free speech violations and asset forfeiture.


Meth dealing. Money laundering. Murder.

These are just a few of the crimes for which members of the Southern California-based Mongols Motorcycle Club have been arrested. But regardless of the crimes they stand accused of committing while wearing the Mongols patch, Central District of California Court Judge David O. Carter recently thwarted yet another attempt by federal law enforcers to confiscate the bike club's brand.

During a sentencing hearing on Friday for racketeering charges against the entirety of the Mongol Nation, Carter ordered the club to pay a fine of $500,000 and serve five years probation. When prosecutors also asked Carter to forfeit the Mongols' trademark for their patch, which bears a figure on a motorcycle resembling Genghis Khan, Carter ruled against the request.

The feds have been after the Mongol patch for years, arguing that displaying the logo is as dangerous as the crimes committed by the club members. As previously reported at Reason, the long legal fight brings together free speech violations, asset forfeiture, and intellectual property. When prosecutors received pretrial authority to go after the patch in 2008, law enforcement confiscated jackets and other items bearing the imagery despite not filing charges for a crime.

Prosecutors briefly enjoyed a win when a California jury decided in January that they could take the trademarked patch away from the group. This decision was eventually overturned by Carter in February. He concluded that the seizure of the trademark violated the First Amendment right to free expression and the Eighth Amendment protection from excessive punishment.

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  1. I feel like there’s stuff the feds could be doing that would be more productive than trying to logic a reason to steal a motorcycle club’s cool looking jackets.

    1. They wanted the jackets to impress chicks.

    2. I rather doubt that federal prosecutors are trying to logic a reason to steal the Mongols Motorcycle Club’s brand. In fact, I’m reasonably sure that they have no idea what the word logic means.

      1. All evidence at the moment points to you being right

  2. logo danger = crime danger.

  3. Cultural Appropriation

  4. Motorcycle club logos make them feel unsafe.

  5. But what about the

  6. If those idiots want to draw the cops’ attention to themselves, let them do it. They might as well be wearing a sign that says, “I’m a criminal”.

    1. That is exactly the point of wearing them. They’re saying, “look! We’re so bad-ass that we can wear signs announcing we’re criminals, and the cops can’t do shit!” It’s like gang tattoos.

      On the plus side, non-criminal motorcycle clubs can announce they are NOT criminals by wearing patches that do not conform to the rules for outlaw club patches.

      1. conform to the rules for outlaw club patches.

        I had no idea that outlaw bikers were such sticklers for regulations!

        1. Its not so much rules for the outlaw clubs, its rules the outlaw clubs enforce on smaller clubs. Basically there are a number of traditions with the patch design for outlaw clubs, and they don’t like anyone else using those traditional designs (like having a 3-piece patch, especially if the lower rocker claims a territory)

        2. That culture came out of the postwar military and preserved a lot of ideas about uniform codes and discipline. Fascinating reading.

          1. Reminds me of the Wild One, with actual WWII vets (Lee Marvin). He and Brando were great in that.

      2. Baby boomer motorcycle clubs are the ones who SHOULD be taken off the road.

        1. I will say as a Christian that I’m continually embarassed by Christian Baby Boomer motorcycle clubs. What a bunch of sad losers.

    2. and you have to be one tough son of a bitch to wear colors of a club. you will be challenged by an asshole at least once a week or maybe 10 at once. you will not run, you will take them all on or die trying. paybacks will be hell though.

  7. “the Eighth Amendment protection from excessive punishment.”

    I know how that’s the ban on cruel and unusual punishments has been read in the last century or so, but really, a cruel punishment can be OK if it’s not “unusual” – which I would imagine doesn’t mean infrequent, but contrary to the common law.

    If you wanna be cruel, stick to standard common-law punishments – if you invent new punishments, make sure they’re not cruel!

    1. And yet, in the definition of behavior modification, an action must be BOTH cruel AND unusual, or it is not punishment.

  8. The greasers and socs are at it again. Lets see if Pony boy is able to save Johnny this time.

    1. Stay gold

    2. Cherry was hawt.

  9. OK, this really is news.
    I knew, as does ‘everybody’, that words are violence; I did not know that images are violence, and criminal violence at that.
    So it seems that a Mongols jacket is just like a MAGA hat?

  10. Mongols!? Mongols were pretty alright I guess… But the Huns, and even more so all the good Germanic barbarians were way cooler. There must be a Vandals MC out there somewhere, or Goths, Visigoths, etc. Cooler names, and cooler barbarians!

    1. yeah but the Mongol Horde rode horses.

      1. True… But so did the others. They just weren’t exclusively horse riding warriors.

      2. ponies. Which they could ride for days on end, nicking the necks to suck their blood when they got peckish.

  11. Jesse Ventura was a Mongol, probably years before he moved back to Minnesota (seeing how Minnesota is a Hells Angels State).

    1. Yeah, it was when he was in the Navy in San Diego, although he moved to Minnesota before the war with the Hell’s Angels began

  12. During a sentencing hearing on Friday for racketeering charges against the entirety of the Mongol Nation, Carter ordered the club to pay a fine of $500,000 and serve five years probation.

    I found this… strange.

    1. Moi aussi. While the club is on probation, it cannot go to bars or associate with other clubs on probation, and it must report to a probation officer every month?

  13. The Mongo gang I founded has a dumb Swede riding an Arctic Cat snowmobile.
    The Feds can have my patch when they pry it from my cold, cold fingers.

  14. I assume they will go after the Washington Redskins logo next?

    1. Washington Redskins football is offensive to football fans.

  15. “Carter ordered the club to pay a fine of $500,000 and serve five years probation.”

    So exactly does an organization serve five years?
    Does each and every member have to do five years probation?
    Can they divvy up the time, say 1,826 members do a day of probation each?

  16. What?
    Free speech in the Union of Soviet Socialist Slaves States of America?
    Dream on, fool!

  17. But isn’t a trademark expected to be used for lawful commerce?

    I thought I had read that the Lanham Act allowed cancellation of a trademark being used for fraud, but I can’t find confirmation of that in quick Googling. Fraud is not the same as meth dealing, either.

    1. Presumably if they cancel the trademark the club can still make Mongols jackets. They just can’t sue someone else for making them, which probably isn’t the main way they enforce their trademark anyway.

      If the Feds own the trademark, they can prevent the club from legally using it. Not that I imagine that would stop them, but trademark violations would then be one more arrow in the quiver to throw at them. Though I’m not a trademark expert, but I would think the Feds would have to continue using the trademark in some way or lose it. I can’t imagine the FBI hawking Mongols jackets, but who knows.

  18. Thanks for the information you shared.
    dr driving

  19. Suppose they lost their legal right to the Mongols logo, do you think they guys don’t know how to defend their IP?

    Woe unto the fool who tried to use it without proper license.

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