Disney Drops Tradmark Application for "SEALs"

By Sara Dover
|  Thursday, May 26, 2011  |  Updated 10:25 AM EDT
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U.S. Navy via Getty Images

Two days after SEAL Team 6 killed Osama bin Laden, Walt Disney Co. applied to trademark the moniker with merchandise-- and possibly a television show-- in mind.

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"SEAL Team 6" won't ever make it to ABC.

The Walt Disney Co., which owns the ABC network, has withdrawn its application for a merchandise-related trademark on the name of the elite special ops squad that took down Osama bin Laden, according to reports. But the Navy won the copyright battle by filing its own application.

"We are fully committed to protecting our trademark rights," Chief Navy spokesman Commander Danny Hernandez said Wednesday, reported The Wall Street Journal.

A Disney spokesman said the company withdrew the application "out of deference to the Navy." The Wall Street Journal reported that Navy officers privately expressed relief about the decision.

Just two days after Navy SEALS swarmed the al-Qaida leader's Pakistan hideout and killed him, Disney applied for exclusive right to the elite squad's moniker with merchandise and possibly a television show in mind. Attorneys say Disney's move was legal.

"You can't trademark flags or coats of arms," Los Angeles business and tax lawyer Greg Weisman told E!. "But pretty much anything else is up for grabs. The law says that the first person to use that trademark on a particular set of goods is deemed the owner. It's about being the first to use the goods."

For example, "G.I. Joe" was a general term to describe a soldier, but then a business-savvy somebody trademarked the phrase and began a franchise.
 

Selected Reading: Time, The Wall Street Journal, E! Online

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