July 31, 2019
MRFF Demand Leads to Quick Removal of Official Military Emblems from Openly Sectarian Religious Jewelry
In early July/2019, MRFF received information from a loyal supporter informing us that a civilian corporation named Shields of Strength, LLC was selling Christian themed jewelry using officially trademarked military emblems on jewelry containing Bible verses. MRFF researchers quickly verified the claim and applicable DoD regulations regarding the use of Department of Defense related marks by NFEs (non-federal entities). The use of trademarked military emblems are strictly controlled under the DoD Branding and Trademark Licensing Program pursuant to DoD instructions which state, in part:
“In accordance with subpart 2635.702 of Title 5, Code of Federal Regulations (Reference (i)), DoD marks may not be licensed for use in a manner that creates a perception of DoD endorsement of any non-federal entity or its products and services. DoD marks may not be licensed for any purpose intended to promote ideological movements, sociopolitical change, religious beliefs (including non-belief), specific interpretations of morality, or legislative/statutory change….”
In addition to branding selected Bible verses with U.S. Military emblems on jewelry, the official motto of ‘Shields of Strength’ emphasizes its religious proselytizing objective:
“To share the love, hope, forgiveness, and power of God’s Word with others and to see people victorious in life’s battles and in a relationship with Jesus Christ.”
MRFF President/Founder Mikey Weinstein submitted cease-and-desist demand letters to the administrative units responsible for trademark licensing within each branch of the U.S. Military. MRFF demanded that each respective administrative unit:
(1) immediately revoke and cancel the current approval for ”Shields of Strength” to continue using the official USMC emblem on any and/or all of its religious items for sale; and,
(2) immediately investigate and aggressively and visibly punish those personnel either directly or indirectly responsible for granting the approval for “Shields of Strength” to use the USMC emblem on its products for sale in the first place.
On July 31, 2019, Mikey received confirmation from the U.S. Marine Corps Trademark Counsel, Mr. Phillip Greene that ‘Shields of Strength’ had been informed that “…it was in direct violation of DoD regulations regarding trademark and copyright with its illegal usage of the USMC emblem juxtaposed on its dog tags with the inclusion of biblical citations.” Mikey issued the following statement regarding this quick and decisive action:
Mr. Greene told me that this vendor was told that such dog tags were clearly advancing a religious faith position in violation of DoD trademark and copyright regulations. Mr. Greene also informed me that this vendor did not deny that they were using the USMC trademark on its proselytizing merchandise and confirmed to the USMC that it would immediately stop selling this illicit merchandise. I noted that the letterhead of his missive to me said “Department of the Navy” and concluded that the offending vendor, no doubt, had to likewise immediately cease and desist from selling its proselytizing dog tags with the U.S. Navy emblem on it as well. Shortly thereafter, MRFF Research Staff confirmed that this vendor had pulled its dog tag merchandise sporting U.S. Navy emblems as well as those with the USMC emblem.
The U.S. Army and the USAF also received similar demand letters from MRFF.
However, to date, neither of those DoD branches have, to MRFF’s knowledge, taken action to stop this offending vendor from using their respective official logos and emblems on its Christian proselytizing dog tag merchandise. MRFF will be aggressively following up as necessary to ensure that the Army and Air Force follow the lead of the USMC and Navy to force “Shields of Strength LLC” to yield and pull its merchandise in accordance with DoD regulatory mandates and the United States Constitution with regard to its illegal use of those service branches’ official logos and emblems.”
MRFF heartily commends the USMC for meeting MRFF’s demands to force the Christian-themed vendor “Shields of Strength LLC” to forthwith stop selling its sectarian proselytizing merchandise (“dog tags”), illicitly marked with USMC emblems, from its inventory.