Defense & National Security

Groups in trademark battle over Reagan slogan

Groups in trademark battle over Reagan slogan

The famous Ronald Reagan mantra “peace through strength” made a revival tour this year when Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney made the concept a cornerstone of his national defense agenda.

But now, a group of former Reagan officials is doing battle with an organization that has trademarked use of the phrase.

This week, 17 former members of Reagan’s national security team signed on to a letter asking the American Security Council Foundation to back off its intent to sue any organization using the slogan in a proprietary fashion. Among the letter signers were former Reagan counselor Edwin Meese; R. James Woolsey, who would go on to head the CIA; former assistant Secretary of Defense Richard Perle; and former National Security Adviser William P. Clark.

“For those of us who proudly served with President Reagan, it is unimaginable that anyone would seek to own a phrase immortalized by him – and, as a result, made not only an enduring feature of our country’s political lexicon, but a touchstone for all those who love freedom, and understand what is required to safeguard it,” they wrote.

The American Security Council Foundation had fired the first volley in September, suing the conservative think tank Center for Security Policy in federal court for its use of the phrase in organization materials.

In a response to the lawsuit filed this week, attorneys with the American Freedom Law Center averred that CSP president Frank Gaffney, another former Reagan official, had been publicly using the phrase for more than two dozen years.

“According to ASCF’s absurd claim to a trademark, apparently even the Republican Party will have to seek ASCF’s permission to include the call for ‘Peace through Strength’ in its political platform going forward.  That is how absurd this trademark claim is,” said lawyer David Yerushalmi in a statement released by the center.

According to ASCF Chairman of the Board Donald Smith, the outrage stems from a misunderstanding.

“The American Security Council in no way is trying to restrict the academic use or the national defense use of the term ‘peace through strength,’” Smith told Human Events. “‘Peace through strength’ is a concept we would hope everyone in the national security arena would support.”

Smith said ASCF had originated the concept and thus had the right to retain the slogan exclusively in corporate use and fundraising materials.

“I strongly believe in no way are we impeding the use of this phrase or concept,” he said.

He said allegations that ASCF had been “AWOL” on defense issues were pejorative and uninformed.

“If they want to deal with the trademark issue in the court system that’s fine, but I don’t believe organizations supporting the same goal ought to be attacking each other,” Smith said.

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