You have probably already read about the following case, but if you haven't, this story may help inform an understanding about trademarks and trade names as well as the consequences of trademark infringement.
The background of the case can be read here:
The outcome of the case can be read here:
While some may choose to negatively characterize each instance of the United States Soo Bahk Do Moo Duk Kwan Federation® defending its trademarks, the Federation's intent is no different than any other entity seeking to preserve its unique identity in the marketplace and distinguish itself, its schools, instructors and members from imitators.
Hwang Kee founded his MOO DUK KWAN® martial art organization in Korea and entrusted the U.S. Federation to preserve it in the USA and the U.S. Federation's Charter and Bylaws require the organization to do so.
Some martial arts practitioners fail to understand or distinguish that MOO DUK KWAN® is the martial art school/organization name and that Hwa Soo Do, Tang Soo Do and SOO BAHK DO®, etc. are martial art system names.
Just as university graduates may wear a university pin or patch and display their degree certificates indicating the institution that they received their education credentials from, so too may MOO DUK KWAN® alumni. However, it is not acceptable for a university student or graduate to open a business using the university name or the university logo unless licensed to do so, likewise it is also unacceptable for a MOO DUK KWAN® alumni to open a business using the MOO DUK KWAN® name or logo unless licensed to do so.
Additionally, it is unacceptable for a university student or graduate to reproduce a university name or logo in advertisements, signs, on websites, on products, apparel, etc. or in relation to services being provided, unless licensed by the university to do so. The same applies to the MOO DUK KWAN® and its various trademarks. While no issue may be taken with a legitimately certified MOO DUK KWAN® alumni wearing an official MOO DUK KWAN® pin or an official patch indicating they are a MOO DUK KWAN® alumni, it is unacceptable for them to wear a counterfeit patch or to duplicate patches or other apparel bearing the MOO DUK KWAN® logo and distribute or sell those items to students and others unless licensed to do so.
The act of trademark counterfeiting does not serve the public interest because it creates a likelihood of confusion, misrepresentation and even contributes to consumer fraud in some cases. Trademark infringement and trademark counterfeiting are a violation of numerous laws intended to serve the public interest and protect consumers from fraudulent trade practices.
The public image and perceived professionalism of the martial art industry as a whole can be improved via education and increased understanding among martial artists about respecting the tradenames and trademarks of each other.
During the course of training students, instructors who incorporate basic education about trademark and trade name concepts like those discussed above will be serving their own best interest, that of the entire martial arts community and the general public when those students may leave their school and embark upon their own path as instructors operating their own schools.
Each reader of this page has an opportunity to respect trademarks and trade names and to help educate others about these simple concepts and in doing so contribute to improved professionalism among martial artists and the martial arts community in general.
Thank you for taking time to learn about trademarks and for contemplating how you can help improve the professionalism of the martial arts community through your actions and education of students and fellow martial artists.