The Mongols of Southern California are in the fight of their lives to retain their iconic image, but they believe the judge in their case is prejudiced against them. In October 2008, a U.S. District Court Judge forbid club members and their families from wearing the Mongols logo, a Mongolian soldier’s profile wearing sunglasses, or selling any merchandise depicting that brand. The judge claimed that image identified a criminal organization, and was used to intimidate others into complying with illegal activity. The Mongols have argued that they are a legitimate organization, with a number of respectable members and a large veteran population.
The case has changed hands a few times, but the current judge has expressed skepticism that criminals only represent a minority of the Mongols members. Over the years, Mongols members have been arrested for a myriad of crimes, including:
When the judge heard an argument about the club’s by-laws prohibiting criminal activity, he called the idea “laughable”. “This is a criminal enterprise as evidenced by the admissions by no fewer than 40 people who appeared before me … This is a dangerous enterprise,” the judge said at a hearing in October.
The Mongols’ lawyer claims that this admission proves that the judge is biased against his clients and should be removed from the case. The club’s attorney states that if the judge continues on the case, the state risks “prejudic[ing] the First Amendment rights of hundreds of (Mongols) and irreparably erod[ing] public confidence in the judiciary.”
From a legal standpoint, it is unclear whether or not the federal government has grounds to seize the image. The club believes the government is taking away their First Amendment Right to declare their affiliation and camaraderie with the club. The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives claims that their only motivation for confiscating the symbol is preventing violence and criminal activity.
Here at Klein Trial Lawyers, we know that your trademark is a means of public identification exclusive to your business or brand, and as such must be protected. Robert G. Klein has more than a decade of experience in trademark infringementand knows how to protect your trademarked images. If you are fighting for your trademark, feel free to call in and discuss your case with us so we can design a plan protect your brand.
[Did You Know: Wal-Mart tried to trademark the happy face in 2006, but the patent office said the image was in the public domain.]
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