FLAG Act Introduced in Congress, Bill Would Give State and Local Governments Access to Trademark Protection
In April, a bipartisan group of Senators, including lead co-sponsors Thom Tillis (R-North Carolina) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota), introduced the Flag Act into Congress. If enacted this legislation would give state and local government entities the legal right to obtain federal trademark protection for their flags and other official symbols. Here, our West Palm Beach trademark litigation lawyers provide an overview of the proposed law and we explain the potential implications for private companies in South Florida.
The FLAG Act: Explained
Under current federal intellectual property laws, state and local governments do not have the right to get trademark protection for official symbols. In fact, current federal regulations prohibit state and local governments from registering trademarks for their flags, their official insignia, and for other government symbols. The FLAG Act — or as it is officially known, the Fair Licensing Access for Governments (FLAG) Act — would change the rules.
If enacted, state and local governments throughout the country would be granted the ability to register trademarks for government symbols. Among other things, the proponents of this bill argue that such reforms will give government entities protection against counterfeits and that they would allow governments to obtain additional streams of licensing revenue. Whether or not this law will pass remains to be seen. Though, it is noteworthy that it has sponsors from each party. Beyond that, the FLAG Act has also been endorsed by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York.
Businesses that Use Official State or Local Symbols Must Pay Attention
For the majority of private companies in South Florida, this bill is unlikely to have any real impact on their business operations. However, if your business uses a state or local flag or any other official symbol on its products or in its branding, this bill could potentially have significant ramifications for your firm. If the bill is passed into law, it would give the relevant government entity a path to getting trademark protection for symbols that your business is currently using in a commercial manner. Depending on the specific nature of the circumstances, some companies may be prevented from using certain marks without permission.
To be clear, even if this bill is passed, state and local governments would not be required to pursue the newly founded trademark protections made available to them. Indeed, it is likely that some government entities would simply decline to do so. Still, the option would become available and some state and local governments would almost certainly consider registering trademarks and taking legal action to protect their intellectual property.
Contact Our West Palm Beach Trademark Litigation Attorneys Right Away
At Pike & Lustig, LLP, our trademark law attorneys are committed to providing solutions-oriented legal guidance to individuals and businesses throughout South Florida. With offices in West Palm Beach and Miami, our law firm is well-positioned to represent you and your company. Please call us today to schedule your confidential initial consultation.