The Las Vegas Sun reported on 8-23-08 what is believed to be the first case in the nation in which the government has sought to take control of an
organizations identity, via its logo, through a court order.
During Operation Black Rain the ATF used undercover agents to infiltrate the Mongols motorcycle club. The (alleged) illegal activities included
narcotics manufacturing and trafficking, vehicle thefts, assaults, and prostitution. It included sweeps in California, Colorado, Oregon, Washington,
Florida, Ohio and Nevada (reviewjournal.com 10-25-08).
This is where the federal government crosses the line and the judicial system fails to protect First Amendment (FA) Rights:
Prosecutors won the right Wednesday to bar the (indicted) Mongols from owning anything bearing their trademarked logo. Make no mistake - it is a
legally obtained, federally recognized (and protected?) TRADEMARK of a private organization. The Mongols' trademark is real: "Mongols" in arching
sans serif type is Trademark No. 2916965. The Mongols have registered both their name and the image of the cartoon Ghengis motorcyclist as trademarks.
It is officially a "Mongols" brand.
Attorney Douglas Mirell, who specialized in First Amendment cases says "...a serious potential FA violation....(where) the government strips lawfully
obtained rights;...preventing a rights holder of using the trademark they legally obtained.."
It's an unprecedented approach. According to Maggie McLetchie, staff attorney for the ACLU of Nevada, "It violates the FA and it's the most
preposterous thing to happen to trademark law...there is no authority for the government to get rid of trademarks....more than a twisting of the FA
and trademark law. People have a right to express themselves....to wear symbols they....identify with". Consider this hypothetical: Crips and Bloods
use red and blue to identify themselves, can the feds ban colors, too?
The goal, according to Thomas O'Brien (U.S. attorney, Cental District of CA where Black Rain indictment was filed) is to empower police who spot
anyone wearing a Mongols patch to "stop that (club) member and literally take the jacket right off his back."(NOTE: NOT just the "indicted"
individuals arrested and charged in the original sweep). O'Briens' spokesman, Thom Mrozek states "The patch is an asset and as such the gvrnmnt may
take it." Ryan Gile, a Las Vegas attrny. specializing in trademark and intellectual property law says "as long as the word "Mongols"...appears
somewhere on the club's logo merchandise, the gvrnmnt can still seize it."
Wednesday's order doesn't state the Mongols can't wear their club clothing, it does say they must give all their clothing up which seems to
accomplish the same goal.
Does this mean the gvrnmnt can prohibit non-members who already own support gear from wearing it and what about their (Mongols members) tattoos?!
Further, trademarks are protected through continuous use so will the gvrnmnt have to crank out its own Mongol-branded goods to keep the trademark
IMHO, this operations' implication are far reaching. If uncontested and confirmed through judicial course it can ultimately be applied to and affect
anyone belonging to any organization (or corporation for that matter) the US gvrnmnt dislikes - regardless of legitimacy of its basic function. A bias
toward one group that is reflected in the final judgment further contributes to the deterioration of every individuals personal rights protected under
the FA. Even if you may find "outlaw" motorcycle clubs unsavory in of themselves we as a society must not allow our government to overstep its
bounds in dealing with any organization (it) deemed morally unacceptable.
ie churches, civic groups, political organizations..
and wheres the media?