The ever intriguing Jim Kirwan posted an article on March 16, 2010 on rense.com entitled "Owning The 'United States®'". Then, a great follow up "Round Two - Who Owns This Country?" The first article referred to the trademark symbol that appears with the logo on the envelope in which the 2010 U.S. Census form is contained. This piqued my curiosity about the logo itself, and the fact that it is trademarked. I thought I'd look into it a bit.
The Patent and Trademark Office is a Bureau under the umbrella of the United States Department of Commerce. The website states "The products and services the department provides touch the lives of Americans and American companies in many ways, including weather forecasts, the decennial census, and patent and trademark protection for inventors and businesses."
According to the United States Patent and Trademark Office, a trademark is one of three types of intellectual property protection. Those three types are: Patents, Trademarks, and Copyrights. Regarding Trademarks; the aforementioned Office states, "Trademarks include any word, name, symbol, or device, or any combination, used, or intended to be used in commerce to identify and distinguish the goods of one manufacturer or seller from goods manufactured or sold by others, and to indicate the source of the goods. Service marks include any word, name, symbol, device, or any combination, used, or intended to be used, in commerce, to identify and distinguish the services of one provider from services provided by others, and to indicate the source of the services."
And of course, "we" have to cover our "assets"... "The U.S. 2010 Census logo is the agency’s most-used and best-known asset. It is the cornerstone of the 2010 Census program."
The trademarks (yes, there are 5/five of them) for United States Census 2010 are listed as Service marks AND Trademarks. Let's look at them.....
The following information can be confirmed here.
First, let's look at Serial Number 77804072 with a filing date of August 13, 2009
The Goods and Services are described as "IC 045. US 100 101. G & S: Personal and social services, namely, providing information related to the conduct of the U.S. Decennial Census, including the provision of such services by means of the Internet.
FIRST USE: 20070521. FIRST USE IN COMMERCE: 20070521.
Owner (APPLICANT) U.S. Bureau of the Census agency of the United States government UNITED STATES 1401 Constitution Avenue, NW Washington D.C. 20230
The Attorney of Record is Hector Benitez-Solivan
Type of Mark SERVICE MARK
Next, let's look at Serial Number 77804023 with a filing date of August 13, 2009
Hmmmm...looks the same to me.
Goods and Services IC 041. US 100 101 107. G & S: Educational services, namely, providing information and promoting public awareness on the importance of and need to participate in the Decennial Census, including the provision of those services by means of the Internet.
Here's the next one. This one is Serial number 77323183 with a filing date of November 7, 2007. It looks the same as the previous two, yet they are registering it, yet again.
Goods and Services IC 016. US 002 005 022 023 029 037 038 050. G & S: printed publications, namely, handbooks, questionnaires and surveys relating to the Decennial Census.
Oh, I see, Trademark AND Service mark.
I have not seen the aforementioned logos in use, but that doesn't mean they aren't being used, I just haven't seen them. And what's with the feathers? Birds of a feather flock together? I was struck however by the circle motif. It seems to come up a lot lately.
So we go on to number 4, this one is the one that is on my Census envelope. This one is serial number 77322711 which was filed on November 6, 2007.
Goods and Services IC 016. US 002 005 022 023 029 037 038 050. G & S: printed materials, namely, stickers, as well as questionnaires, survey forms, Census forms, and booklets, reports, manuals, and handbooks relating to the Decennial Census.
FIRST USE: 20041200. FIRST USE IN COMMERCE: 20041200
Owner (REGISTRANT) U.S. Bureau of the Census n/a AGENCY OF THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT UNITED STATES 1401 Constitution Avenue, NW Washington D.C. 20230
Attorney of Record Philip J. Greene
Type of Mark TRADEMARK
And on to the last one, 77322622 which was filed November 6, 2007, the day before 77322711. Wait, maybe THIS one is the one on my envelope. They look the same, why does there need to be two registered if its the same logo?
Goods and Services IC 045. US 100 101. G & S: research services, namely, conducting the U.S. Decennial Census, including the provision of such services by means of the Internet.
Oh, I get it now...one is a Trademark, the other is a Service mark. Goods and Services. I guess they are covering their bases. You know how there's SO many people lining up to fake Census forms, riiiiiight.
Something stuck out for me when I examined 77323183. It lists "Prior Registrations 2296084;2316247;2518821;AND OTHERS" Prior registrations? What might those be?
Let's look at registration number 2296084. What have we here? Filing Date December 8, 1998
Word Mark FOREIGN TRADE STATISTICS YOUR KEY TO TRADE U.S. CENSUS BUREAU. Huh?
Goods and Services IC 016. US 002 005 022 023 029 037 038 050. G & S: Publications, namely, reports, surveys, abstracts, statistical abstracts, newsletters, press releases, pamphlets, brochures, posters, magazines, calendars, journals and booklets containing and/or pertaining to business, economics, finance, exports, imports and international trade.
FIRST USE: 19980408. FIRST USE IN COMMERCE: 19980408
Owner (REGISTRANT) U.S. Bureau of the Census FEDERAL AGENCY UNITED STATES U.S. Department of Commerce Washington D.C. 20233
Attorney of Record Mark R. Tallarico
Type of Mark TRADEMARK
Foreign Trade Statistics? OK. What else?
Here's registration number 2316247. Filing Date December 8, 1998.
Goods and Services IC 035. US 100 101 102. G & S: Business services, namely, providing information and statistics relevant to business, economics, exports, imports and international trade; and business services, namely, providing information and statistics via a global computer network, revelant to business, economics, exports, imports and international trade.
So, let's check out 2518821, which was filed November 5, 1999. Gosh, it looks a bit familiar...
Word Mark UNITED STATES CENSUS 2000
I can't not look at the lawyers now, can I?
Let's see...Attorney of Record Hector Benitez-Solivan. Not much found about him other than he's a lawyer in Washington, D.C. , who was named in a May 2009 New York Supreme Court lawsuit regarding attorneys in violation of Judiciary Law, in which he was ordered to suspend the practice of law in any form until he registered and paid registration fees.
Then came Philip J. Green, whose "day job" is working for Office of the Chief Counsel for Technology at the Department of Commerce. Not much else out there about him, except he has a polished palate.
Well, this has all been interesting but I find myself wondering, this is all about commerce, right? "First use in Commerce" it says. So the Census is commerce. Commerce is the exchange of items of value between companies or persons. A deal of commerce would then be any exchange of money for a product, service, or information. So, you and I exchanging Census information with the government is considered commerce. That begs the question, if this is considered an exchange, where's the money? I keep being told my information is most valuable. I don't seem to be getting any money for exchanging my information with the Census Bureau, what kind of commerce are we talking about here? Not mine, apparently.
In the 2000 Census, $167 million was spent on a professional advertising campaign. Well, that's certainly commerce. In 2010, according to this article, "This year, spending on advertising and marketing for the 2010 Census will total $340 million, which, in addition to paid advertising, will include public relations, Web site development and a road tour." This includes the big bucks you know WE the PEOPLE spent on the Super Bowl commercial. I don't know if it includes the cost of printing and mailing the "You're going to be getting a Census letter" letter. That was flat out stupid, and WE paid for it. I know costs keep going up, no doubt. But.... I can flush money down the toilet too, I don't have to work for the Department of Commerce to do so.
I also know they want lots of Americans to do their "duty." Responses are always a challenge. In this article, it states, "In 1970, the rate of return for paper forms was 78 percent. It dropped to 75 percent in 1980 and 65 percent in 1990, greatly inflating costs. " Of course in 1970 they started advertising to boost participation.
So, I'm thinking, if they can fork out millions of dollars to exchange information with me, where's MY cut? I'm the one giving them the info, or not. So where's my part of the exchange? If they want to boost participation, why don't they just pay everyone $25 or so to fill out the form? It'd probably be cheaper.
And what about that "or not" part? Well, just in case you are considering not filling out the form, or giving false information, consider 13 USC Sec. 221 This will clairfy any fines. I can give you the gist of it....
So there you go...the Census is branded, with a logo, just like any other product used for commerce. They've got the goods, AND the services, apparently. If you refuse; it will cost you $100. Hmmmmm.....my form came addressed to "Resident" If I don't fill it out, who are they going to bill at my address..."Resident"?
If you are interested in the government's position on the constitutionality of the Census questions, you can read that here.