DOD Branding & Trademark Licensing

Use of Military Service Names, Insignia, or Other Marks on an Advertisement or Website

Published: 08/20/21 | Updated: 10/04/21

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 osd.pentagon.pa.mbx.cpo-review@mail.mil.

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 osd.pentagon.pa.mbx.cpo-review@mail.mil 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.