National Urban League to U.N.: Stop Unauthorized Use of Trademarked Logo

NEW YORK –  The National Urban League has asked United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to intervene in the U.N.’s ongoing illegal and unauthorized use of the National Urban League’s trademarked logo.

National Urban League President and CEO Marc H. Morial said he was “absolutely surprised to learn that the United Nations began utilizing our logo without checking registrations in the United States patent or trademark office and then willfully refusing, despite voluntary requests to comply with our suggestion, to discontinue the use of our logo.”

Morial also has asked U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power for their assistance in protecting the trademark.The National Urban League has used the equal sign logo, since 1968 and obtained a federal registration for the logo in 1992.

The civil rights and social justice organization in December requested that the U.N. stop using the logo for its campaign for a sustainable development campaign. In a letter to the U.N.’s Office of Legal Counsel, the National Urban League wrote, “While we appreciate and commend your efforts, we believe that the use of NUL’s Mark in connection with your activities may cause confusion, cause mistake or deceive the consuming public as to the source, sponsorship, association or affiliation of the Global Goals for Sustainable Development Campaign and serve to dilute the value of NUL’s Mark in violation of our rights under the Lanham Act.”

The Lanham Act, also known as the Trademark Act of 1946, is the federal statute that governs trademarks, service marks, and unfair competition.

As the U.N. has not complied, Morial has reached out to the Secretary-General.

“As a historic civil rights organization that serves those of economic and social disadvantage in this country with a focus on African Americans, our organization is well-known and our logo is well-socialized in this nation,” Morial wrote, “I am respectfully requesting your immediate intervention into this matter to avoid an embarrassment to the United Nations as well as to avoid the possibility of contentious and expensive litigation by the National Urban League against the United Nations.”