Tuesday, 5 November 2013

The NSA T-Shirt Story

It's an interesting little story.

Some graphic design guy has this idea for a t-shirt.  He takes the NSA logo, puts some words on it, and prints our batches of t-shirts.  He sells them.  He makes a profit.  He gets a cease-and-desist letter from NSA, based on copyright infringement.  He counter-sues.  Case is in court now.

You can see the logo to the right.

The basis of this mess.  Military organizations do an interesting thing when they start out.  They all want logos.  This was true in the 1920s.  It was true during during the Vietnam War era.  It's true with bomber wings, fighter wings, and reconnaissance wings.  It's true with the tank folks.  It's even true with the submariners.  Once they have a logo, they register it and trademark it.  It's theirs....period.

So when anyone.....particularly an artist....acts and uses the basic registered logo.....you will fall into a legal pit.  The registered logo lawyer staff always wins.  In this case, NSA has hired lawyers on the staff, and their legit work in life....is to defend the logo.  It's a sad professional act.....if you think about some lawyer....whose big thrill in life....is defending a logo.  You don't move onto bigger and better jobs with this type of work.

My general advice?  If I were this graphic artist.....I'd toss out the t-shirts and the idea....then start fresh.  Draft up the new 2014 NSA logo for them.  Put up a chicken.....some lightning strikes hitting it on the rear.....maybe dark stormy clouds overhead....and toss on two lines of text.  A new logo for a new organization....mostly fried by public reaction and cast as a bad guy in a sad TV drama with no real ending.

No comments: