The Department of Defense (DOD) Policy and Executive Services Division within the Office of the Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs (OATSD(PA)) is responsible for educating non-Federal entities (NFEs) – commercial and not-for-profit – and individuals about the use of official seals and other protected logos, insignia and marks of the DOD and Military Services. While intended to inform all NFEs about how these marks may and may not be used, this guide is focused particularly toward leaders and key staff of national veteran service organization (VSO), institutions of higher education, and military service organizations. Commercial entities with questions about use of Military insignia also will find some guidance herein.
We understand that the use of Military Service seals, emblems, logos, and coats of arms by NFEs on products, programs, and through social media is usually intended in good faith to honor and show support of our Armed Forces. We also understand that there are many military appreciation events and other special circumstances with dedications to our Service members where event organizers may wish to use the Military Service marks.
Veterans who serve in the military may aspire to continue their public service by running for an elected position. While it is natural for a candidate to want to inform voters of his or her service, Military Service marks should not be used as part of political campaigns, inasmuch as it could create an appearance of endorsement for that candidate.
Many people are unaware that these official DOD and Military Service marks are protected by law from unauthorized use. The Lanham Act, also referred to as the Trademark Act, dates back to 1946. Other trademark licensing laws and regulations, such as 10 U.S.C. 2260 and 32 CFR 507.10, exist that give the DOD, each Military Service, and other DOD Components authorization to protect, retain intellectual property licensing fees, and license their names, insignia, seals, symbols, phrases, and similar identifiers.
Consequently, when the DOD seal or Military Service insignia are used without permission, the Department(s) may take appropriate action upon notification.
This document is intended to serve as a guide to not only educate NFEs about Military Service intellectual property but also to ensure that when use is authorized, NFEs use the correct, accurate, high resolution identifiers for the Military Services. This guide is not inclusive, but addresses our most frequently asked questions regarding use of our protected marks. It is also designed for requestors to recognize their specific circumstance and know whether their request will be favorably considered or denied. Please consider this information prior to contacting a Military Service Trademark Licensing Program Office.
If you have questions, feel free to contact the OATSD(PA) at: firstname.lastname@example.org or contact the Military Service Trademark Licensing staffs found in Part I of this document, to address your matters.