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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 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 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 the more than 500 other marks. Permission is required when using any of these as trademarks, but not required when using statements of fact. 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 when 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 in 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. Also, it can result in legal action.
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 because it will create the impression that you/your company are affiliated with or endorsed by the USMC.
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."
Is it permissible for a military support group or social club to use Marine Corps Trademarks as part of its branding, name, clothing, and outreach? For example, if a fitness group, amateur athletic team, book club, motorcycle club, neighborhood watch group, or other club, were to name itself "Marine Corps Marathoners" or "USMC Riders," and prominently wear Eagle, Globe and Anchor emblems on their "official apparel," would this be OK, even if the group is not selling merchandise?
No, such use is not authorized. In accordance with Federal, DoD and USMC non-endorsement policies, the USMC does not grant trademark use approval to any social organizations (often non-profits), whether a book club, gardening club, motorcycle club, etc. The USMC does not authorize any social organizations to adopt USMC trademarks into their club names and activities. While the USMC recognizes the many benefits that social clubs can bring to the Corps, it must remain objective to avoid circumstances where such organizations may not shed a positive light on the USMC, and/or create the appearance of USMC endorsement, sponsorship or affiliation. As such, we ask that USMC affiliated social clubs refrain from adopting USMC branding into their private club activities. Thank you for your support, and for respecting the intellectual property rights of the USMC.
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, or where marks could create the appearance of endorsement. In cases of appropriate use, 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)'
We do not allow private third parties to incorporate our historic emblems into their marketing and advertising materials. Unauthorized use is subject to our enforcement efforts. It's easy for people to obtain and use USMC insignia on the web and elsewhere, however federal trademark laws require that the USMC control its name and marks. Further, we must be careful allowing the use of trademarks in a way that might suggest the USMC endorses a particular site, or is connected or affiliated with it in some way. Therefore, the USMC does not grant 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:
Marine Corps Trademark Licensing Office
Headquarters United States Marine Corps
925 Corporate Drive, Ste 208
Stafford Virginia, 22554
Main Line: 703-784-6887
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. Read the Qualification Standards first to determine if your business is eligible. Applicants should follow all instructions to be considered.
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.
To access a list of all Official Marine Corps Licensees click here.
There are more than 500 registered Marine Corps trademarks requiring permission to use. 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 by the Marine Corps 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; nor does it give one the right to trade on Marine Corps marks. 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 permission to use the Eagle, Globe and Anchor on personal products. Such items may include, welcome home banners, cakes, t-shirts and invitations. These items must be intended for personal 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 to which each of our licensees must adhere.
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 at 703-784-6887.
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, because it might create the impression 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 you are a Marine Corps veteran. You may not use the EGA, which is a trademark of the USMC and protected by Federal law (please see 10 USC 7881). This is consistent with the Marine Corps Uniform Regulations which clearly states 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 32 CFR 765.14, Unofficial use of the seal, emblem, names or initials of the Marine Corps).
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 your company is authorized or endorsed by the USMC. While it may be true your company has 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.