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The Defense Department and military seals are protected by law and reserved for official use only. Under U.S. Code Title 18, Section 506, unauthorized use of the seals may include, but is not limited to commercial, marketing, advertising or promotion use by any nongovernment entity and is punishable.

Military services have provided alternatives to their seals for commercial purposes. They include logos or coats of arms. Permission to use any of these emblems must be granted by the respective services. There is no substitute for the Defense Department seal.

Most DOD and Military Service seals contain the words “DEPARTMENT OF.” For example, “DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE,” “DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY,” etc. The U.S. Coast Guard Seal is distinguished by the gold rope surrounding the anchors instead of the words “DEPARTMENT OF.” Other DOD Components and agency insignia may have a similar appearance. Emblems are often mistaken for seals because they are similar in shape. Please see this graphic for more information.

Using the DOD Seal
The DOD Seal may only be used in an official capacity by DOD or DOD Components.  Similarly, DOD logos or emblems containing the words "Department of" are generally restricted for internal, departmental use only.

Official use
Official use is considered when the DOD seal or logo are used on internal DOD presentations, letterhead, publications, or governmental websites where the content is produced by DOD personnel.  Contact the Military Service POC or OATSD(PA) if you are unsure whether or not you may use an official seal or logo.


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The Defense Department, including Military Services, does not allow private third parties to incorporate historic emblems into their marketing and advertising materials.  Even though it may be easy to obtain and use Military Service insignia found on the Web and elsewhere, Federal trademark laws support the rights of the Defense Department to take enforcement measures to protect the respective Military Service names and marks when unauthorized use is found.  Further, the Department strives to avoid the use of its trademarks in a way that may suggest the DOD or the Military Services endorse a particular company, product, service, or website, or is connected to or affiliated with a non-Federal entity in some way.

Reporting unauthorized use
Non-Federal entities may be unaware that their organization is not authorized to download military insignia from other websites and display them on their website.  One should not assume that a graphic design that uses military names and logos on a public website is authorized and that the creator obtained the proper licensing agreements and prior written permissions.  Therefore, please report any instances of suspected unauthorized or inappropriate use of DOD or Military Service seals and insignia to

Use of DOD or military service trademarks or images by contractors as part of a marketing strategy
Even though a company has a contract with the DOD or a Military Service, a company may not use military insignia as a part of its marketing strategy.  Such unauthorized use may create the impression that the DOD or Military Service(s) endorse the company.  Rather, contractors may factually state that their company was awarded a contract to do business with DOD or the Military Services.  If in doubt, forward your proposed marketing mock up to for review.

Use of military service insignia for a fundraiser
Use of Military Service names and insignia are generally not permitted as part of fundraising activities.  Before contacting local manufacturers regarding new products, designs or any idea for a fundraiser that includes DOD or Military Service names or marks, check with the respective Military Service Trademark Licensing Office.  

Use of military service insignia on a gift
Permission to use Military Service names or marks on custom-made products may be considered on a case-by-case basis if the product is purchased from an approved licensee and if the product is intended for the personal use of an authorized individual.  Visit the website of the appropriate Military Service Trademark Licensing Office more information or email the office with any questions. 

Use of military service trademarks by non-federal colleges, universities and other learning institutions to promote and advertise military programs
The Department of Defense and Military Service policies prohibit use of Military Service marks in ways that could imply endorsement of a commercial entity or activity, including non-profit organizations and educational institutions.  Visit the DOD Branding & Trademark page for more details.

Use of military service trademarks by political candidates or on political campaign materials
Political candidates may refer to the fact that they served in a particular branch of the military.  However, they cannot use Military Service marks in a way that would give the impression that the Military Service has endorsed their candidacy.  Political candidates also should avoid using pictures of themselves in a military uniform as part of their campaign material, unless a legible disclaimer is present.

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