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Yet another type of IP: NSA “Trademark” Rights

From the National Security Agency Act of 1959:

“Sec. 15. (a) No person may, except with the written permission of the Director of the National Security Agency, knowingly use the words ‘National Security Agency’, the initials ‘NSA’, the seal of the National Security Agency, or any colorable imitation of such words, initials, or seal in connection with any merchandise, impersonation, solicitation, or commercial activity in a manner reasonably calculated to convey the impression that such use is approved, endorsed, or authorized by the National Security Agency.”

This seems like a sui generis IP right I have not seen before. It’s similar to trademark, I suppose. The types of intellectual property keep expanding.

For an example of the application of this sui generis IP right, see The parody shirt the NSA doesn’t want you to wear. The demand letter to the company making the shirt even refers to the rights infringed by the shirt as “intellectual property.”

And this is yet another example of why trademark law, and its cousins and variations, are as unjustified as copyright and patent (though not as harmful). See:





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To the extent possible under law, Stephan Kinsella has waived all copyright and related or neighboring rights to C4SIF. This work is published from: United States. In the event the CC0 license is unenforceable a  Creative Commons License Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License is hereby granted.