Will The Real Seal Team 6 Please Stand Up

Posted on June 8, 2011

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Shortly after the elite Navy SEAL Team 6 made international headlines for finding and killing terrorist leader Osama bin Laden, the Disney Corporation made headlines of its own for an attempt to trademark “SEAL Team 6.”

According to Fox News, the entertainment enterprise filed the trademark application on May 3, 2011, two days after the operation that killed Bin Laden and increased media coverage of Seal Team 6. If successful, Disney could put “’SEAL Team 6’ on everything from entertainment, toys, video games, clothing, footwear – even Christmas ornaments and snow globes.” The U.S. Navy responded by filing a trademark application of its own for “SEAL Team” and “Navy SEAL” on May 13, 2011 in relation to posters and clothing.

It appeared that a major legal battle was brewing. Many attorneys and legal experts felt Disney would have had the advantage simply because they made their trademark filing first, and even if Disney’s trademark applications were not approved, they would have to be resolved before the U.S. Navy could have their applications approved. The process moves slowly, and it could have taken years to settle.

Again according to Fox, Disney’s argument would have been that they filed first and that no one would “assume a connection with the Navy” from Disney’s SEAL Team 6 products. On the other hand, the Navy could counter “that they are … actually the SEALs” and “that they were using it first to identify themselves and any use by Disney would create consumer confusion about sponsorship.”

However, before the Navy and Disney could meet in court, Disney withdrew its trademark applications. The use of the SEAL name remains in the hands of the U.S. Navy.

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