How common are government trademarks?

Friday - 3/9/2012, 5:01pm EST

Deborah Cohn, commissioner for trademarks, Patent and Trademark Office

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Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and 13 other senators are urging the Department of Veterans Affairs to get trademark protection for the term, GI Bill. By trademarking the term, they hope to reduce the chance the phrase could be used in deceptive marketing by some colleges and universities.

In a press release, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), a proponent of the measure, said, "Recent investigations by the Government Accountability Office and the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions found that many for-profit colleges and universities use predatory recruiting practices and false advertising to encourage prospective students to enroll, despite having low student success rates and high costs. Many of these ads specifically target veterans. Trademarking the phrase 'GI Bill' would help bring this to an end by allowing the Department of Veterans Affairs to ensure that the phrase is only being used to provide impartial and comprehensive information about these benefits."

The senators wrote a letter to VA Secretary Eric Shinseki expressing their concern with the way the phrase is being used.

The government currently has trademarks for the terms Social Security and Medicare, according to the Federal Times. But, how common are government trademarks?

Deborah Cohn, commissioner for trademarks at the Patent and Trademark Office, discussed the issue of government trademarks on the Federal Drive with Tom Temin.