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The Gang Formerly Named for Genghis

The Mongols have a constitution and bylaws, wear matching insignia, and earn the equivalent of merit badges -- albeit for things like committing violent crimes or engaging in certain sex acts.  They've even registered their name as a service mark.  But the members of the notorious motorcycle gang are no Boy Scouts, and federal law enforcement officials have taken a novel approach to intellectual property law in an attempt to shut down the organization. 

In addition to a massive early morning raid that resulted in dozens of arrests, the L.A. Times reports on this more subtle approach:

U.S. Attorney Thomas P. O'Brien said if his plan is successful, the government would take over ownership of the trademark, and anyone caught wearing a Mongols patch could have it seized by law enforcement on the spot.

"Not only are we going after the Mongols' motorcycles, we're going after their very identity," O'Brien said in a telephone interview early this morning.

In an article from the Associated Press, O'Brien added, "It would allow law enforcement to seize the leather jackets right off their back."

Of course, the prosecutor could simply have attempted to strike at the group's legitimacy by canceling the mark, perhaps arguing that it consists of "immoral, deceptive, or scandalous matter" or is "primarily geographically misdescriptive," since the gang operates out of southern California, not Asia.  Cancellation, however, would allow the Mongols -- and anyone else who chose to do so -- to continue using the mark, though not exclusively.  Federal ownership would instead ensure that nobody outside the government could legally reproduce or use the mark in connection with the group's activities.

And after all, men who are allegedly willing to sell drugs, commit murder, and copulate with corpses will surely hesitate to engage in intellectual property infringement.   

 Mongols' logo

Thanks to fabulous Fordham Law alum Suzana Carlos for the tip!