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  1. #1

    CF/DND owns Yellow Ribbon image

    PUBLICATION: The Daily Gleaner (Fredericton)
    PAGE: A1
    DATE: 2011.08.11
    BYLINE: STEPHEN LLEWELLYN llewellyn.stephen@dailygleaner.com
    COPYRIGHT: © 2011 The Daily Gleaner (Fredericton)
    ________________________________________
    Armed Forces owns rights to yellow ribbon; Copyright | Image can't be used for corporate types of promotion, says military________________________________________
    You can tie a yellow ribbon around your old oak tree for free.
    But if you want to use a yellow ribbon and the phrase "Support Our Troops" in your business, you're going to have to pay Ottawa for the privilege.
    The Department of Natural Defence has owned the copyright to the phrase and the yellow ribbon image since 2007, said Department of National Defence public affairs officer Capt. Rob Bungay.
    "Although we appreciate and encourage individuals' personal support of the Canadian Forces through the display of the yellow ribbon, the use of the department's intellectual property in corporate promotional matter cannot be supported," he said in an email.
    "The unauthorized use of the yellow ribbon in commercial advertising could mislead the public and Canadian Forces members with regard to the companies' association with the official Support Our Troops program; and/or DND's endorsement of the companies over that of their competitors."
    He said Canada adopted the yellow ribbon campaign after its success in the United States in a merchandising launch in May 2005.
    Subsequent to its introduction, a registration for trademark protection was submitted in mid-2006 and it was registered in early 2007.
    The first Canadian yellow Support Our Troops ribbon was introduced as a car magnet, and it's now one product in an extensive selection of Support Our Troops items available for purchase, said Bungay.
    "In a nutshell, the policy allows Canadians to license the image to aid in the promotion of goodwill events and activities in support of our troops while prohibiting the use of the symbol in association with the promotion of for-sale goods and services that have no direct association with the members of the Canadian Forces or of their families," he said.
    Proceeds from the sale of yellow ribbon products such as magnets, decals, shirts and ball caps go to Canadian Forces Personnel and Family Support Services on behalf of current and former members of the Canadian Forces and their families, said Bungay.
    "In addition to ongoing contributions, over $3.5 million has been distributed to all bases, wings and units across Canada to support new and existing morale and welfare initiatives at the local level," he said.
    The Armed Forces has also licensed the use of the yellow ribbon to 85 entities for the promotion of their fundraising event or activity, including many private individuals as well as some well-known organizations such as the Calgary Flames hockey club, said Bungay.
    The military takes its copyright seriously. But Bungay said usually a call or a letter is enough to handle unauthorized use.
    Companies interested in using the yellow ribbon should contact the national manager of strategic communications at Canadian Forces Personnel and Family Support Services, said Bungay.
    The Riverview Ford car dealership in Fredericton has a large yellow ribbon on its signage and Nick McCarthy, general manager and vice-president, said he has no problem with the symbol being copyrighted by the military.
    "We haven't heard anything about it," he said Wednesday. "We've had no problems. No one's mentioned anything to us."
    McCarthy said the company began using the yellow ribbon after being contacted by officials from Canadian Forces Base Gagetown when Canadian soldiers were first deployed to Afghanistan.
    "They were getting local businesses to support the troops overseas," he said. "They were selling those and we purchased them at that time and put them up and they've been up ever since.
    "I didn't even know that they copyrighted that."
    McCarthy said it's nice the military controls the symbol.
    "There's all kinds of people around that are trying to make a buck off of causes that are important to people," he said.
    Oromocto Mayor Fay Tidd also said she was surprised to learn the yellow ribbon is copyrighted, but she had no concerns about it.
    "It's a great compliment to those that have the yellow ribbon on their buildings or in the windows of their cars and houses and wear the yellow ribbons on pins," she said Wednesday.
    Tidd said there are yellow ribbons on almost every business, church and public building in Oromocto.
    "The ribbons have been everywhere for the last couple of years," she said.
    Tidd said she was pleased to hear the money went to Canadian Forces Personnel and Family Support Services .
    Bob Lockhart, a retired military officer and commentator on military matters who lives in Fredericton, said he's surprised, but not concerned, the military has copyrighted the yellow ribbon.
    "Certainly the military is very open in seeking the support of the Canadian population for the work that the military does," he said.
    In terms of legal control, he said he would rather see the rights to the yellow ribbon owned by the military than a private company seeking to make a profit off of such an important public symbol.
    "In the hands of the military, there is probably a better chance that it would be used for its original purpose," he said.
    The yellow ribbon isn't the only image controlled by the military.
    Lockhart said it's illegal in Canada to wear a military uniform and pretend to be a soldier, sailor or airman or woman.
    Another symbol related to war that's copyrighted is the poppy, which is the property of the Royal Canadian Legion, he said.
    GWP
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  2. #2
    I see the reason for this since they don't want it being used as part of advertising, however I don't like the term "Intellectual Property" being used since the term "Support our Troops" is an ambiguous slogan that was used way before the CF started using it. Also, awareness ribbons were not made by the CF, let alone the "yellow ribbon" and it's connotation; they just made their own variation of the idea, which does not seem original enough to be considered intellectual property.

    I would call it copyrighted material.
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  3. #3
    Ok. I am confused. What exactly is copyrighted?

    The image of a yellow ribbon? The phrase "Support our Troops"? The combination of a yellow ribbon and "Support our Troops"? Is the issue the image, or profiting from the image?

  4. #4
    It all sounds pretty dodgy to me. Assuming the CF could prove its rights to this image, why would we even care to try and enforce it?
    Gene C. Fedderly, CD, RCN
    Lieutenant-Commander

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  6. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by LCdr Gene Fedderly View Post
    It all sounds pretty dodgy to me. Assuming the CF could prove its rights to this image, why would we even care to try and enforce it?
    If someone else was making knock-off ribbons and selling them?

  7. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by rwgill View Post
    Ok. I am confused. What exactly is copyrighted?

    The image of a yellow ribbon? The phrase "Support our Troops"? The combination of a yellow ribbon and "Support our Troops"? Is the issue the image, or profiting from the image?
    The image and phrase would be copyrighted, but they don't necessarily have to be together. Basically, anyone can use it, display it, etc, but companies can't use it in advertising since it may make people think that the CF/DND specifically approve of that company over it's competitors.

    Quote Originally Posted by a.rodd View Post
    If someone else was making knock-off ribbons and selling them?
    IIRC, that could be considered fraud. [citation needed]
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  8. #7
    The way I understood it was that knockoffs and unauthorized retailers can be selling "yellow ribbon" items, and consumers may think that the funds are going back to support CF families, etc, when actually the funds are just going into the retailers' pockets. The purpose of copyrighting it is to provide some sort of deterrent, and also it gives them a way of enforcing that only the CF (and its authorized retailers) should be selling yellow ribbon items.

    To be honest, I think it's a good idea so that people know their money is going where they think it's going.
    Eleanor
    canada

  9. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Niteshifter View Post
    which does not seem original enough to be considered intellectual property.

    I would call it copyrighted material.
    I understood that copyright was one of the various forms of intellectual property protection.

  10. #9
    The whole concept of copyrighting anything to do with a yellow ribbon is a bit weird considering the idea comes directly from the song "Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree" by Tony Orlando and Dawn. Granted, the song is about an ex-con but I clearly remember the first stories of the yellow ribbon symbol down the States referencing the song as the inspiration.
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  11. #10

  12. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by GWP View Post
    Thanks

    Looking at that, the simple yellow ribbon is not an issue. Yellow ribbon with Support our Troops may be an issue.

    I would have never known where to start looking.

  13. #12
    Any idea why it appears the "Highway of Heroes" application was not successful?

    http://www.cipo.ic.gc.ca/app/opic-ci...tIndexOnPage=1
    SLt P.C. Wise

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  14. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Slippery Pete View Post
    Any idea why it appears the "Highway of Heroes" application was not successful?

    http://www.cipo.ic.gc.ca/app/opic-ci...tIndexOnPage=1
    This is just speculation, but I would think they would be denied so as to emphasise that they are not affiliated with the CF.
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  15. #14
    P Jenner is on a distinguished road P Jenner's Avatar
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    I don't think it was rejected so much as abandoned, why would the government use a symbol that skirts it's own TMs? the proper highway of heroes insignia uses a poppy, which is a TM registered to the Royal Canadian Legion. So I'm guessing thats where the rejection/abandonment stems from?

  16. #15
    I did find out an interesting thing while at a CFRC yesterday; They don't have any yellow ribbons, which from what I was told was because of redundancy reasons (why would they support themselves?) and because it can be a sensitive issue with the troops that are overseas.
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  17. #16
    PaxRomana is on a distinguished road PaxRomana's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Niteshifter View Post
    I did find out an interesting thing while at a CFRC yesterday; They don't have any yellow ribbons, which from what I was told was because of redundancy reasons (why would they support themselves?) and because it can be a sensitive issue with the troops that are overseas.
    For any of the Yellow Ribbons and other CF Support The Troops things, go to your local Military Families Support Centre, they sell them by the boxes. The sticker kind, the car and fridge magnets in CADPAT TW and ARID patterns.

    As per the copyrights, I agree with them. DND doesn't want some corporation plastering it over all their things and in turn getting higher profits through services and other products by drawing in people with the iconic Yellow Ribbon and it's accompanying phrase.

    On another note: Yellow Ribbon!
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