Heard the story about Disney getting a trademark on the phrase "Seal Team 6" two days after the death of Osama bin Laden? I don't know why the media doesn't do just a few minutes of research and get the rest of the story. All of the information is easily available on the United States Patent and Trademark Office website (www.uspto.gov). Here are the facts:
The first trademark on Seal Team 6 was applied for on May 14, 2002 by a company called NovaLogic, Inc. out of California. The trademark was for "Computer and video game software, computer programs recorded on CD-ROM's and compact discs featuring computer games; accessories for playing electronic computer games, namely templates, computer game joysticks and manuals therefore, sold as a unit." The trademark was abandoned in February of 2006.
Trademarks can become abandoned for a variety of reasons, but one of the most common is that the applicant does not file the required follow-up paperwork or use the trademark in a commercial activity. Also realize that simply applying for a trademark does not grant one. The process can take up to a year.
NovaLogic filed a subsequent trademark application for "Seal Team 6" and the more general "Seal Team" in March of 2004 but abandoned them both in 2006.
Yes, Disney made three initial applications on May 3, 2011, wanting to register Seal Team 6 for a whole host of uses. But since that time M. Z. Berger & Co., Inc out of New York and RESCO Instruments out of California have both applied for a Seal Team 6 trademark for Clocks, Jewelry and Watches. A Nevada company called Justice is Done, LLC has applied to use the phrase on "commemorative coins; key rings of precious metals; cufflinks; jewelry; wall plaques made of precious metal." And don't forget your action figures from John Brokaw, some dude from California who applied for a trademark on "SEAL TEAM RAIDER 6."
Here Come the Big Guns
Realizing they had missed the boat, the US Navy applied for a trademark on the more general "Seal Team" on May 13 of this year. Their trademark has a purpose that can't be matched by anyone else - "to indicate membership in an organization of the Department of the Navy that develops and executes military missions involving special operations strategy, doctrine, and tactics." Better late than never.
By the way - Hoi Hung Wan, an individual from Hong Kong, applied for a trademark on "Navy Seal Team" way back in 2001 and abandoned it in 2003. And PADI (the recreational diving group) applied for a trademark way back in 2001, but this one was for education programs having to do with actual seals - the animal, not the human - and the marks are still "Live."
Why not apply for your own Seal Team trademark? All you have to do is visit the USPTO, pay your $325 and you have started the process. Having the Patent Office actually register your trademark is something else, however the good news for all these filers is that the PTO does not actually decide whether an individual has the right to use a particular mark, only that the process was followed correctly. Maybe I will be able to get those Seal Team cufflinks after all!