Guidance for Use of U.S. DoD/Military Trademarks and Logos

Use of military seals is prohibited; written permission required for emblems and insignia

The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) prohibits the use of official DoD and military seals for any reason. These seals are protected by law from unauthorized use and may not be used for non-official purposes.

There is no substitute for the DoD seal, and there is no optional graphic that would represent this department. Each military service has a trademark licensing program office that manages its many trademarks and logos, both graphic and work marks.

The Georgia Tech Office of Legal Affairs consulted with a number of DoD and military entities regarding usage of trademark-registered emblems and insignia. Based on responses, the office determined that Georgia Tech faculty and staff must obtain express written permission from the appropriate office of the DoD/military entity before using emblems or insignia. To request permission, contact the appropriate military trademark office. If permission is granted, it is recommended that you keep a copy of the permission notification.

DoD Clarifies Trademark Use Policy

Here is the communication Georgia Tech received from DoD regarding its trademark policy:

In our review of educational institutions for the Department of Defense Voluntary Education Partnership Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), we found that several institutions appear to be displaying the “Official Seals” of the Department of Defense (DoD), the Military Departments (i.e., Army, Navy, Air Force, and the U.S. Marine Corps), on institution websites, and in various institution publications (e.g., catalog), advertisements, brochures, and billboards. We are presuming that the use of these official seals is intended to acknowledge support for our Service members and to advertise academic curriculum tailored to meet the needs of the military community. However, the use of these official seals is expressly prohibited. Consequently, the Department is concerned that this type of inappropriate use may create an appearance of endorsement or affiliation. For example, consumers could view the advertisement and assume the Department of Defense or a particular Military Department or other DoD entity endorses or favors the policies, programs and services offered by a particular institution over those of another; or that a DoD entity may be affiliated with a particular institution. As a Participating Institution, it is imperative that all Voluntary Education Partnership MOU signatories be in compliance with DoD policy.

As explained at http://www.defense.gov/Media/Trademarks, the Department of Defense and Military Department seals are protected by law from unauthorized use, and these seals may NOT be used for non-official purposes. In addition, institutions are encouraged to review the Government Website Public Use Notice of Limitations at http://www.dimoc.mil/resources/limitations.html regarding the use of visual information containing military persons, places, and things for commercial advertisement, marketing, promotion, solicitation or fundraising purposes.

We hope this notice and the resources provided therein will inform current and future decisions concerning the use of any DoD official seals or other trademarked insignia. We request that any DoD entity official seals or other insignia that are currently being used in publications, advertisements, brochures, on billboards and websites be promptly withdrawn and that all future use cease, except in cases when permission has been granted by the appropriate DoD entity.

Your immediate assistance with this matter is greatly appreciated.

Dawn A. Bilodeau, Chief
DoD Voluntary Education
Military Community and Family Policy

July 2015

Please direct further questions to Kirk Englehardt, Director of Research Communication or Yolonda Cameron, GT Office of Legal Affairs.