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Trademark Law

Why the Government May End Up Owning a Motorcycle Gang Logo

Posted Jun 21, 2011 8:02 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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The former president of the Mongols motorcycle gang, Ruben "Doc" Cavazos, trademarked its logo before pleading guilty to a racketeering conspiracy.

Now the government is seeking ownership of the logo and the motorcycle club name, report the Los Angeles Times and City News Service. On Monday, prosecutors asked U.S. District Judge Otis Wright of Los Angeles to order forfeiture of the trademark, which shows a Genghis Khan look-alike riding a motorcycle. The logo is displayed on the group’s website.

Lawyers for the gang argue that the trademark and logo are a collective membership mark that can’t be owned by one person. "It's legally impossible for one person to own a collective membership mark, so if it's illegal, they can't take it,” lawyer George Steele told the Los Angeles Times.

According to the stories, a group of Latinos reportedly rejected by Hells Angels formed the Mongols in the 1970s. The government alleges that gang members finance the organization through the sale of methamphetamine. Dozens of gang members have pleaded guilty.

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