WASHINGTON – Yesterday, Representative Hakeem Jeffries (NY-08) introduced the bipartisan and bicameral Fair Licensing Access for Governments (FLAG) Act. The legislation would allow government entities to obtain federal trademark protection for their flags, symbols, insignia and seals. The bill is cosponsored by Representative Martha Roby (AL-02) and the companion bill in the Senate is sponsored by Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Thom Tillis (R-NC).
In order to maintain a separation between business and state influence, trademark law does not allow governments to obtain copyright protection for their intellectual property, resulting in a loss of brand cohesion and tourism revenue. It has also led to public safety concerns via the counterfeiting of police symbols. As government entities have gotten more and more involved in promoting state and local tourism, the law is in need of modernization.
Representative Jeffries said: “Whether it is the world-famous NYPD crest or the Lone Star of Texas, these symbols are invaluable resources. Allowing governments to trademark their intellectual property would enable them to protect longstanding assets, help eliminate public safety threats by stopping the production of counterfeit badges and uniforms and generate needed revenue for local public resources and services. Representative Roby and all involved are to be commended for their work on this critical effort.”
Representative Roby said: “From the State of Alabama’s red and white flag to iconic local insignias around the country, it is important that states, cities, and municipalities have the ability to protect their individual symbols and seals as trademarks. I am proud to cosponsor the FLAG Act to allow these government entities to obtain federal trademark protection for the symbols that matter most.”
Senator Klobuchar said: “Seals and symbols are, for many, an important part of their identity. We should protect the right to trademark seals and symbols when there is a benefit to our communities. Our new bipartisan legislation, the FLAG Act, would amend outdated legislation to make it easier to protect against counterfeit goods and boost local tourist revenues.”
Senator Schumer said: “The FLAG Act amends the current law on the books to allow government entities to register flags, coats of arms, or other insignia as a federal trademark, which will help bolster tourist or licensing programs and in turn fund government services. I’m proud to introduce the FLAG Act with my colleagues in the House and Senate to update federal trademark law to reflect the commercial realities of today.”
Senator Tillis said: “Local and state governments have a long and proud history of displaying their flags, insignias and seals. These entities should have the right to obtain federal trademark registrations and protect these widely used symbols from criminal counterfeits, and I am proud to co-introduce this bipartisan legislation to give them the opportunity.”
The FLAG Act is supported by the American Bar Association (ABA), the United States Conference of Mayors (USCM), the American Intellectual Property Law Association (AIPLA), the International Association of Fire Fighters and numerous major cities around the United States.