It appears public outcry has dealt a blow to the mighty Magic Kingdom, as Walt Disney Co. said Wednesday it would withdraw an application to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office seeking exclusive right to use the term “SEAL Team 6” on its merchandise.
A Disney spokesperson told the Wall Street Journal the company pulled the application “out of deference to the Navy.” But the move comes after Disney drew public criticism and ridicule for its rapid application for the patent. “Putting a trademark on SEAL Team 6 is like copyrighting ‘The guys who stormed the beach at Normandy,’” Jon Stewart said on The Daily Show. “It belongs to all of us.” The entertainment giant filed the claim just two days after the world learned of the secret special-operations unit’s mission that lead to the end of Osama bin Laden.
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On May 13, the Navy filed its own request for trademarks on the phrases “SEAL Team” and “Navy SEALs.” The Navy has a trademark on “SEALs,” which it has licensed for video games, among other products. Though the Navy says it wasn’t a direct response to the Disney filing, Commander Danny Hernandez, the chief Navy spokesman, said to the Wall Street Journal Wednesday that the Navy is “fully committed” to protecting their trademark rights.
A person familiar with the Disney’s plans told the Wall Street Journal the Burbank-based company’s intentions were misunderstood, saying Disney is considering producing a TV show about the elite squad. The person added that the other potential uses listed on Disney’s application didn’t necessarily reflect the type of products the company intended to create. The filing sought to trademark the term “SEAL Team 6” for a range of uses, including hand-held video games and snow globes.
While Disney faced the brunt of the late-night jokes, they aren’t the first to seek trademarks related to the U.S. military. Last year, CBS Corp. sought exclusive right to put “NCIS” on clothing. The network airs a drama about the Navy’s law enforcement arm: Naval Criminal Investigation Service. Several years back Paramount Pictures filed for a trademark on “JAG,” the name of its series on the Navy’s Judge Advocate General’s Corps.
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Navy officials in Washington said to the Wall Street Journal they were not aware of the NCIS trademark application, but noted that the Navy has had a long working relationship with CBS on the NCIS television programs. (Via Wall Street Journal)