Forced Labor, Convict Labor, Indentured 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.R§2.69, 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
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