The United States Code Title 18 section 709 was established to protect the people from businesses who would use the listed Federal agencies to fool consumers that the government either sanctioned or established the organization. Here is how the title begins.
Whoever, except as permitted by the laws of the United States, uses the words "national", "Federal", "United States", "reserve", or "Deposit Insurance" as part of the business or firm name of a person, corporation, partnership, business trust, association or other business entity engaged in the banking, loan, building and loan, brokerage, factorage, insurance, indemnity, savings or trust business; or Whoever falsely advertises or represents, or publishes or displays any sign, symbol or advertisement reasonably calculated to convey the impression that a nonmember bank, banking association, firm or partnership is a member of the Federal reserve system; or Whoever, except as expressly authorized by Federal law, uses the words "Federal Deposit", "Federal Deposit Insurance", or "Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation" or a combination of any three of these words, as the name or a part thereof under which he or it does business, or advertises or otherwise represents falsely by any device whatsoever that his or its deposit liabilities, obligations, certificates, or shares are insured or guaranteed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, or by the United States or by any instrumentality thereof, or whoever advertises that his or its deposits, shares, or accounts are federally insured, or falsely advertises or otherwise represents by any device whatsoever the extent to which or the manner in which the deposit liabilities of an insured bank or banks are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation
Clearly this statute was put in place to protect the consumer. And since the Government got involved with these areas of the economy it is a good move to make sure your brand is protected from fakes.We extend the same rights to Companies in the form of Trademarks and corporate logos. The debate on the efficiency of these organizations is for another day, but what we need to discuss is what is happening to the statute recently. HR 3011 the TSA Authorization Act of 2011 includes the following text.
‘Whoever, except with the written permission of the Assistant Secretary for Transportation Security (or the Director of the Federal Air Marshal Service for issues involving the Federal Air Marshal Service), knowingly uses the words ‘Transportation Security Administration’, ‘United States Transportation Security Administration’, ‘Federal Air Marshal Service’, ‘United States Federal Air Marshal Service’, ‘Federal Air Marshals’, the initials ‘T.S.A.’, ‘F.A.M.S.’, ‘F.A.M.’, or any colorable imitation of such words or initials, or the likeness of a Transportation Security Administration or Federal Air Marshal Service badge, logo, or insignia on any item of apparel, in connection with any advertisement, circular, book, pamphlet, software, or other publication, or with any play, motion picture, broadcast, telecast, or other production, in a matter that is reasonably calculated to convey the impression that the wearer of the item of apparel is acting pursuant to the legal authority of the Transportation Security Administration or Federal Air Marshal Service, or to convey the impression that such advertisement, circular, book, pamphlet, software, or other publication, or such play, motion picture, broadcast, telecast, or other production, is approved, endorsed, or authorized by the Transportation Security Administration or Federal Air Marshal Service;’.
First what really scares me it that this bill was introduced by a Republican and Co-Sponsored by 5 others. The question here is would I be breaking a law posting this if this bill passes. Pardon my ignorance but I believe I have a right to discuss a federal organization openly. From what I can read you can’t use those terms because my readers might believe the TSA endorsed my blog?
Look if you want to say it is a crime to represent yourself as a federal agent, and that law is already written, say so but to say that using those terms in a movie would be a crime is ridiculous. Write or call these guys and tell them how dumb this language is.
The extent to which they word this change to the statute is excessive.