By Staff Sgt. Alison O’Sullivan
Air Force Trademark and Licensing Office
Have you been shopping at the mall and come across a product with an “Officially Licensed Air Force Product” label on it? Ever see an ultramarine blue and yellow t-shirt that boldly proclaims, “I am a proud U.S. Air Force parent!” How about a glossy white drinking mug that suddenly displays the Air Force symbol when hot water is added?
Ever see officially-licensed, Air Force-branded baby diapers? No? That’s because the Air Force Trademark and Licensing Office works hard to protect the Air Force symbol and other service trademarks.
While Air Force-branded diapers could be a trendy product because some babies go through diapers faster than our jets can fly, it doesn’t mean our brand should be displayed on them. After all, the U.S. Air Force Symbol is not mere clip art in someone’s graphics library. Every detail on the symbol holds a unique and deeply personal meaning for Airmen and prior service members. It represents who we are as a military branch and what we stand for as a service. It embodies and honors our heritage and the promise of our future. It also retains the core elements of our Army Air Corps legacy, and reflects the aerospace force of today and tomorrow. It represents the very identity of the all Air Force Airmen.
The trademark and licensing office strives to protect that identity by monitoring what Air Force-branded products fill the marketplace – not only in brick and mortar stores, but in virtual storefronts as well. We do that, in part, through the licensing of select intellectual properties to qualified partners.
Through licensing, we are able to exercise control over how our brand is represented, what other products share advertising space with our brand, where the products are made and by what work force. We are also able to check the quality of the licensed merchandise that people proudly wear or display to show their support of the greatest Air Force on Earth.
Licensing also enables us to collect royalties from the sale of the approved Air Force merchandise. The revenue generated from licensing has helped enhance multiple Air Force morale, welfare and recreation programs during the past five years. In fact, we’ve already contributed more than $500,000 to these programs!
Businesses interested in creating Air Force-branded products for commercial use or profit are required by law to obtain a license through our office prior to the production and sell of the product. Licensing applications can be downloaded at www.trademark.af.mil.
While we can’t stop all infringement on our trademarks, here are some things consumers can do to help us reduce the sale of non-licensed Air Force-branded products.
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