Mongols MC sue over attempted trademark seizure by feds
by Hook for Hdhistory.com
Prosecutors from the U.S. Department of Justice have tried and so far failed at seizing the trademark image of the incorporated Mongols Nation Motorcycle Club. Over the years feds have tried numerous tactics with MCs and RICO being the favored weapon of choice, however in 2008 California took a different approach. It was thought that if the government owned the trademark to the Mongols MC logo, then any time a member was spotted wearing the logo, in theory law enforcement would be able to stop the member and remove the trademark as belonging to the government. Considering that MC members would never give up their colors willingly that proposition would have put any officer in jeopardy if they attempted to remove the patch or vest without a SWAT team to back them up.
What the feds hadn’t realized is that confiscation of private property without a legitimate claim would be wholly rejected by the courts. The ACLU who represented the Mongols MC , further argued that it was prosecutorial overreach of a violation of the 1st amendment to free speech, not to mention blatant misuse of trademark and forfeiture laws. A federal judge agreed and quashed the prosecutor’s attempts at gaining a legal seizure. As well, the Justice Department was ordered to pay the $250k legal expenses of the ACLU in defense of the motorcycle club. Currently the Mongols MC has filed their own motion to prevent any further action in regards to the logo which is their trademark.
Property forfeiture is a HUGE business for the federal government, whether it’s cash, property, vehicles, businesses, or trademarks. The issue with trademarks though would be much scarier if the feds employed the legal sharks from R.I.A.A. who financially ruin and criminally charge grannies and students with downloading mp3’s etc. Some might say that a logo seizure such as this one borders on identity theft and if it could be proven in court that regardless of the logo or trademark, it IS the property of the owner and represents the identity of said owner, what the owner does legally or illegally is a different matter. For more in depth information you can read the particulars of the Mongols MC vs Feds here