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  "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing"
Edmund Burke

Forced Labor, Convict Labor, Indentured Labor
Child Slavery/Labor

What exactly is forced labor? Some children would argue it is having to take out the trash or clean their rooms. In the last fifty years, Americans have become familiar with the concept of forced labor through history books that reference the causes of the American Civil War or through references to third world factories that manufacture goods for American companies. In any event, it far removed from their daily lives.

Few purchasers really care if the name brand shoes they buy like Nike and Addais for $165 only cost the brand name company $5 or less to manufacture. They WANT the shoes. The brand name is entitled to a profit. Nor do consumers really care if the shoes were manufactured in a sweat shop (read forced labor here). Again, it comes back to desire. Kids must have the latest jeans, shoes and whatever is in. And the parents do not care. Get it to shut them up.

But, forced labor in the manufacture of goods imported and/or sold in the United States violates federal law.

Under Section 2 of the Trademark Act (15 U.S.C. 1052), a trademark request can be refused if it "consists of or comprises immoral, deceptive, or scandalous matter". 19CFR12.42 (Code of Federal Regulations) prohibits the importation of merchandise produced by convict, forced, or indentured labor, including forced child labor. Title 19 U.S.C. 1307 defines "Forced labor" as

"...all work or service which is exacted from any person under the menace of any penalty for its nonperformance and for which the worker does not offer himself voluntarily. For purposes of this section, the term "forced labor or/and indentured labor" includes forced or indentured child labor."

Many manufacturers know, or reasonably should know, of this activity as part of their "strict quality control" measures they often assert in their vigorous defenses of their trademarks and copyrights. Disclosing this "immoral" activity on trademark and copyright applications should have placed in jeopardy the approval of same. We assert failure to disclose this information invalidates many of the existing trademarks and copyrights.

Under 37 C.F.R2.69, Compliance with other laws: "When the sale or transportation of any product for which registration of a trademark is sought is regulated under an Act of Congress, the Patent and Trademark Office may make appropriate inquiry as to compliance with such Act for the sole purpose of determining lawfulness of the commerce recited in the application. "

What constitutes slave labor? When a person cannot physically leave employement without fear of retribution that is one definition. That person is a slave. A slave does not have to be owned from birth and held on a plantation. A slave can be a person who believes they must appear for work every day, regardless of payment and treatment; one who fears for their safety, or someone else's safety. This fear does not have to be rational according to American standards because most of these people are not Americans.

It is our argument that many trademarks and copyrights are invalid because the applications omitted the "immoral, deceptive, or scandalous matter" required in the federal statutes. Would the Trademark Office approve a trademark from a candy company knowing the chocolate was being produced by child slave labor in the Ivory Coast? Would the Trademark Office approve the "Mouse Ears" as a trademark knowing the conditions in factories in Southern China? No one knows because this information was conveniently omitted from applications submitted to the Trademark Office.

Many major corporations hide behind the thousands of miles between the factory and the consumer. But, federal law requires disclosure. Deliberate failure to disclose invalidates their trademark and copyright protections. They pay their corporate lawyers millions of dollars a year to know what they are doing. Ignorance of the law is not an excuse here. They know the law. They choose to ignore it because it suits their purpose.

Yet these same companies pursue legitimate small businesses who are engaged in perfectly legitimate operations selling licensed fabric as finished products. They would rather put someone out of business who is legitimate than police the manufacturing of their own licensed products. Can we all say "hypocrite"?

Articles About Slave Labor

  • Child Slave Labor In China, by Megan Grau, May 2005. "The International Labor Organization (ILO) has estimated that of the 250 million children between the ages of five and fourteen work in developing countries, 61 percent are in Asia."

  • Slave Labor in China Sparks Outrage, by Simon Elegant, June 20, 2007, for Time, Inc.. "The furor in China surrounding the discovery that children and the mentally handicapped had been kidnapped and sold into slavery is showing no sign of abating."

  • The Chinese Gulag, by Daniel J. O'Connor. "A dark side of this unprecedented period of American prosperity is America's involvement with arguably the world's most exploited group of people, the slave laborers belonging to an insidious system of prison camps known by some as the Chinese Gulag."

  • Was Your School's Cap Made In This Sweatshop?, A UNITE Report on Campus Caps. "Dear student, We were as shocked as you to find out that baseball caps with our schools' logos were made in a sweatshop."

  • Was Your School's Cap Made In This Sweatshop? page 2, A UNITE Report on Campus Caps, page 2. "BJ&B's low wages cause workers to live in poverty."

  • The Sweatshop Industry, article posted by www.sweatshopwatch.org. "Overseas, garment workers routinely make less than a living wage, working under extremely oppressive conditions."

  • New Era Accused of Using Sweatshops, posted on vaxpower.org, March 17, 2002. "The University of Iowa and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill are the latest colleges to announce that they will stop doing business with New Era Cap Co., because of New Era's poor working conditions in the U.S. and overseas."

  • Stopping Sweatshop Labor in Sports, by Steven Potter , for Sheperd Express, July 11, 2002. "While some sports fans in town for the All-Star Game may worry about the authenticity of their Major League Baseball apparel and collectibles, one local group is instead trying to get the word out about the working conditions of those who make the official clothing of major league sports teams."

  • Sweatshop Myths, by David Tannenbaum for the University of Michigan. "These are the slogans that undergird the "liberalization" of world markets and the principles that run through our Econ 101 textbooks."

  • Who Supports Sweatshops?, posted by lys on November 19, 1999 on McSpotlight (www.mcspotlight.org). "...wal-mart AND k-mart both support sweatshops"

  • In Support Of Human And Worker's Rights", National Labor Committee, Reprinted from New York Times Op-Ed page, July 5, 2002.

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