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trademark wars

Feds Muscle In On Mongols' Patch

Posted by Mark J. Miller on June 30, 2011 12:00 PM

Members of the Mongol Motorcycle Club aren’t exactly known to be the nicest fellas in town.

They’ve got murder, drug trafficking, money laundering, and plenty of other things on their record. The long arm of the law has tried a lot of things to try and put a stop to the gang’s actions, including a 28-month undercover stint by an ATF agent that resulted in 53 convictions.

Now federal prosecutors are messing with the Mongol brand. A request was made last week to “block members of the notorious Mongols motorcycle gang from wearing or distributing its trademarked logo or using its name,” according to the Los Angeles Times.

The Club was started in 1969 by some Hispanic Vietnam vets who weren’t allowed to join the Hells Angels.

Today, they're a thoroughly modern motorcycle club, with a Facebook page, a Twitter feed, a YouTube channel, a website — even an online store. But they may not sell merchandise bearing their logo much longer.

The back-story, via the San Francisco Chronicle:

A 2008 racketeering indictment accused Mongols members of murder, assault, drug trafficking and robbery after a massive, three-year undercover effort dubbed "Operation Black Rain." Seventy-nine gang members from six states were indicted [while] dozens have been found guilty.

At the time of the indictment, the Mongols had between 500 and 600 members, most of which were in Southern California, though the club also operated elsewhere in the United States, Mexico and Canada.

One of those indicted was former Mongol president Ruben "Doc" Cavazos, who pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy and is expected to be sentenced later this year.

While heading the gang, Cavazos registered and trademarked the Mongol logo, Mrozek said. After Cavazos pleaded guilty to the criminal charges, prosecutors realized they could request the logo be forfeited because the trademarks were used while the club was involved in criminal activity.

"The fact that they wanted legal protection" for the logo gave authorities "both the idea and the avenue to go after the logo," Mrozek said.

If the U.S. District Judge signs the order, the government will own the logo as well as the Mongols name, the paper reports. The saga involving the logo on their patch, consisting of a man with a ponytail riding a chopper, is being played out on their blog (did we mention they have a blog?)

“This patch is a central element of the identity of the gang. We’re trying to dismantle a criminal organization, and we’re trying to use whatever tools we can to do it,” said Thom Mrozek, spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office, according to the Times. “In this case it shows our determination to go after this organization as a whole — top to bottom leadership — and after the proceeds of criminal activity.”

The Mongols, with chapters as far as Italy, are none too pleased and, naturally, fighting against such an order going through. Stay tuned.

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Comments

George Steele United States says:

Mr Miller, before you blindly accept the government's opinion about the Mongols Nation Motorcycle Club, I would invite you to learn a little about them from a different source.  Feel free to contact me at any time.

gls

June 30, 2011 01:15 PM #

S. Brady (brandchannel) United States says:

Here's our follow up on the legal ruling:

www.brandchannel.com/.../...ls-Win-Logo-Fight.aspx

July 1, 2011 04:00 PM #

Comments are closed

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