By MATHEW INGRAM
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Chicago crime boss Al Capone was finally brought to justice not because of all the bootlegging, murder and fraud he engaged in but because of tax evasion. Now, the U.S. government is trying a similar tactic in its fight against a criminal biker gang called the Mongols. Federal prosecutors say they want the courts to award them the rights to the gang's name, and any imagery associated with it.
That way, federal authorities say, they could outlaw the gang in part by preventing them from using the name and imagery, and by seizing property and assets that carry it, including clubhouses, motorcycles and even gang members' clothing. This would allow any police officer "who sees a Mongol wearing this patch ... to stop that gang member and literally take the jacket right off his back," U.S. Attorney Thomas O'Brien told Reuters.
This appears to be the first time that the police or the U.S. Attorney's office have gone after a bike gang or any other criminal organization based on illegal use of intellectual property (IP). One intellectual-property lawyer called the tactic "cute and clever" but also "a bit troubling."
It might also be harder to seize the trademark than the federal prosecutor thinks: According to an article in Portfolio magazine, the gang doesn't own the rights to the IP any more - the non-profit entity known as Mongol Nation transferred those rights earlier this year to a California company called Shotgun Productions.
For more details and links, please see the Ingram 2.0 blog at http://www.globeandmail.com/arts or http://www.globetechnology.com.