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Marine Corps Trademark Licensing Program

Office of U.S. Marine Corps Communication

Frequently Asked Questions
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A trademark licensing program gives the United States Marine Corps (USMC) control over its logos and marks, thus, ensuring the quality and consistency of all of the licensed merchandise. It also enables the USMC to generate revenue from the sale of merchandise bearing its logos and marks. The revenue is used to support the trademark licensing program and enhance Morale, Welfare and Recreation programs for America’s Marines world wide. Outside of the USMC, the trademark licensing program creates a cooperative and positive working relationship with the manufacturers and retailers who work with the USMC.
Any mark, logo, symbol, nickname, letter(s), word(s) or combination of these that points to and/or can be associated with the USMC qualifies as a trademark. This would include the U.S. Marine Corps Seal, the emblem, and the initials U.S.M.C., as well as the terms MARINE(S), U.S. MARINE(S), UNITED STATES MARINE(S), U.S. MARINE CORPS, MARINE CORPS, and other marks. It only requires permission when it is being used as a trademark; in other words, using a sentence such as "I served in the U.S. Marines for 10 years" would not qualify as a trademark use requiring a license. It is where the mark is used on goods or services functioning as a trademark or brand, that requires permission.
Military members, families and the American public generate many great ideas for new products displaying USMC marks. Products will be considered and must be approved by the Marine Corps Trademark Licensing office. No products will be licensed without the approval of this office. This ensures all products associated with the USMC are of high quality and good taste and, ensures the non-approval of potentially offensive or otherwise non-compliant.
Anyone wishing to use the marks, logos and symbols of the USMC is association with their goods and/or services must obtain a license.
All products must be approved by the Marine Corps Trademark Licensing office. Failure to obtain a license or approval would be grounds for the seizure of all non-approved merchandise bearing USMC marks. It also could result in legal action.
Please visit http://www.defense.gov/trademarks for a full listing of DoD trademark licensing contacts.
Before contacting local manufacturers regarding new products, designs, or an idea for a fundraiser, be sure to check with Marine Corps Trademark Licensing office. They will be able to identify local manufacturers to produce the items, saving everyone time and effort.

No, The Marine Corps will object to a substantial or significant use of any USMC insignia, including any use that implies any official or unofficial connection between the Marine Corps and you/your company, especially within your logo or branding strategy. For example, the USMC would object to a company logo that is based around or otherwise incorporates the Eagle, Globe and Anchor (EGA) emblem, and would request that such a logo be modified to remove the EGA. The bottom line is that USMC insignia should not be the centerpiece of your branding efforts since, in our view, that will create the impression that you/your company are affiliated with or endorsed by the USMC in some way.

Specifically, Section 765.14 of Part 32 of the Code of Federal Regulations (cite as 32 CFR 765.14) notes that "[r]equests from civilian enterprises to use or imitate the Marine Corps emblems, names, or initials will ordinarily be approved where use or imitation merely provides a Marine Corps accent or flavor to otherwise fungible goods. Disapproval, however, usually may be expected where such use or imitation reasonably would imply any official or unofficial connection between the Marine Corps and the user; tend to create the impression that the Marine Corps or the United States is in any responsible for any financial or legal obligation of the user; give the impression that the Marine Corps selectively benefits the particular manufacturer, commercial entity, or other user, as in displaying the Marine Corps emblem, names, or initials on musical instruments, weapons, or the line, and in using the emblem, names, or initials in connection with advertising, naming or describing products and services such as insurance, real estate, or financial services; or tend to subject the Marine Corps to discredit or would be inimical to the health, safety, welfare, or morale of the members of the Corps."

Use of a disclaimer is appropriate in instances where USMC insignia are used to describe goods or services, or otherwise as a reference, but not where the use is significant or substantial, such as described above. In such cases, the following disclaimer must be posted in a prominent place;

        'Neither the United States Marine Corps nor any other component of the Department of Defense has approved, endorsed, or authorized this product (or promotion, or service, or activity)'

Use of USMC trademarks requires permission from the Marine Corps Trademark Licensing Office. The World Wide Web has made it easy for people to obtain and use USMC insignia, on the Web and elsewhere, and the USMC would ordinarily appreciate this support. However, federal trademark laws require that the USMC control it's name and marks. Further, we have to be careful about allowing the use of trademarks in a way that might suggest that the USMC endorses a particular site, or is connected or affiliated with it in some way. Therefore, the USMC must be very selective in granting permission in these instances. For more information, contact the Marine Corps Trademark Licensing Office.
The organization responsible for the Trademark Licensing Program for the USMC is:
Headquarters United States Marine Corps Public Affairs (PA)
Trademark Licensing Office
3000 Marine Corps Pentagon
Washington DC, 20350-3000
703-614-7678 (phone); 703-697-5362 (fax)
Trademark_licensing@usmc.mil(e-mail)
Anyone who wishes to obtain permission to produce merchandise must submit a license application. This application informs the USMC of how its marks will be used, what type of product the applicant makes, how the USMC is going to be represented, etc. Applications can be obtained on this website under the "Apply Now" section.
Requests to use any Marine Corps marks on commercial products or endorsements require a minimal of 30 days for approval.  However mission requirements may prolong the process. Currently the average wait time for application review is 90 days.
USMC Trademark Licensing office can provide a list of current licensees for merchandise with USMC marks.
The Eagle, Globe and Anchor emblem, the term Marine Corps, Marines, U.S. Marine Corps, the initials USMC, enlisted rank insignia, unit logos, and USMC slogan, The Few. The Proud, and the official Seal are deemed insignia owned by the United States Marine Corps.  This list is not exhaustive, and if you have any questions about any Marine Corps-branded marks, please request permission before proceeding.
No, they are not. Please see 10 USC 7881, as well as 15 U.S.C. 1125 and 10 U.S.C. 2260. In addition to being protected by specific statute, Marine Corps insignia are considered to be trademarks and, as such, are not to be used by third parties without permission.  While it is true that works (such as written works) created by Federal employees are generally not protected by copyright, and are in the public domain, this does not apply to trademarks. Also, under 10 U.S.C. 2260, the U.S. Marine Corps may license trademarks and may retain and expend fees received from such licensing, to be used to cover the costs of securing trademark registrations, the costs of operating our trademark licensing program, and to be used for Marine Corps morale, welfare, and recreation activities.

"Fair use" is a principle of copyright law that allows for the limited unauthorized use of another's original copyrighted work for the purposes of criticism, commentary, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research.  Commercial sales are not included in fair use.  In the trademark law context, “fair use” contemplates the use of another party’s trademark that is not considered to be a “trademark use,” where the use does not function as a brand or identifier of source.  While some instances of use of military insignia (such as in the background, or some other incidental use) might qualify as “fair use,” each such use must be reviewed in order to determine if it is a fair use, or a trademark use (requiring a license).

In the context of “fair use,” many Marines have used USMC insignia and slogans (such as the EGA, “The Few, The Proud,” etc.) on personal items such as tattoos, handmade items, the names of their boats, etc.  As we do not consider these to be “trademark uses,” we don’t consider them as requiring a license, nor could or would we prohibit such uses if we wanted to. 

First, thank you for your faithful service. There are hundreds of thousands of USMC veterans out there who are proud of their military service. Being a veteran does not give one the authority to launch a product line of Marine Corps-branded products. The USMC is the best custodian of its insignia and names which is why Marine Corps-branded products need to first be approved. We are dedicated to working with small businesses and hobbyists and have several programs in place for individuals wishing to create USMC-branded products on a small scale. Please visit our Apply Now section for more information. While your operation may be small, please understand permission to use USMC trademarks is still required.
The commercial sale of Marine Corps products requires licensing. However; if you are a business owner, let's say you are a custom t-shirt manufacturer and a servicemember approaches you about making 25 custom t-shirts for their unit. In this case you may create and sell to them the custom product they are requesting. However; if you are not licensed you may not advertise that you can create Marine Corps branded products. Only official USMC Licensees may advertise their Marine Corps branded products. Permission to create Marine Corps products is not given to the private business owner rather, Department of Defense employees, USMC veterans, retirees, active duty members and their immediate families have an implied license to use the Eagle, Globe and Anchor on personal products such as printed materials, literature, briefings, coins and web sites. These items must be intended for internal use and not for sale, advertising or potential endorsements. All such custom products must adhere to USMC design guidelines. If you are at all confused regarding this matter please contact the Trademark Licensing Office.
Yes, it can be difficult. As a popular brand owner the Marine Corps must protect its insignia against incorrect and unauthorized use. Our licensing department is similar to that of other brand owners such as Disney, Nike, the NFL, the NCAA, etc. We have ethical, financial, legal, manufacturing and business standards each of our licensees must adhere to.
We offer three licensing programs. One is for large companies, small businesses, and hobbyists. Please visit our "Apply Now" section to determine which program is best for you. If you need help please give us a call, 703-614-7678.
No, you may not use the official Marine Corps Seal, Eagle, Globe and Anchor (EGA), or any other USMC insignia or trademark in this manner, since it might create the impression that your candidacy is endorsed by or affiliated with the USMC in some way, or that the USMC has chosen your candidacy over other candidates. You are more than welcome, to simply and accurately state that you are a Marine Corps veteran, that's fine, that's a fact. But using the EGA which is a trademark of the USMC, and protected by Federal law (please see 10 USC 7881) is something you may not do. This is consistent with the Marine Corps Uniform Regulations which clearly states that the wearing of the uniform in a political context is strictly prohibited. Please see Section 11002(1)(a)(2) and (3) of the Marine Corps Uniform Regulations.
No, they may not. Department of Defense and Marine Corps policy and regulations prohibit use of official Marine Corps markings and symbols in ways that imply endorsement of a commercial entity or activity. (See CFR Part 2635.702).
No, even though your company has a contract with the USMC you may not use the EGA as a part of your marketing strategy. As noted above, such unauthorized use would create the impression that your company is authorized or endorsed by the USMC. While it may in fact be true that your company has in fact done work for the USMC, using a USMC emblem or indicia as a way of conveying this information is likely to overstate the relationship and otherwise create appearance issues. You may list the USMC as an entity you do business with, but please use the name only.
The USMC stopped providing permission letters for the commercial use of USMC insignia in November, 2009. If you possess one of these letters you will need to apply for a license agreement if you wish to continue selling Marine Corps merchandise. Today, permission letters are given to those seeking to use Marine Corps insignia in a non-commercial manner, i.e. for use on a monument or memorial. If you have a permission letter for the non-commercial use of Marine Corps insignia then your letter is still valid. Please read the Permission Letter Termination Notice for more information.