While I was in the Hotel Thayer at West Point this weekend, I strolled into the Gift Shop with an eye toward buying a West Point souvenir, maybe a tee shirt or hat. As soon as I walked through the door, a nice looking windbreaker caught my eye. I looked at the label, and it said:
Now, I know that the leadership of the past and current administrations has decided to normalize relations with Vietnam (a notion I have never been all that comfortable with), but seeing West Point merchandise that was made in Vietnam being sold on West Point Property was a shocker.
I left the store without buying anything. So did the Usual Suspects, all of whom are Vietnam Era and Vietnam veterans. I suspect many people, particularly veterans and non-veterans in my age group, leave without buying anything.
The gift shops at West Point (one in the Hotel Thayer and one in the Visitor Center) are operated by the Daughters of the United States Army, a nonprofit organization, which donates the profits to local communities, but the trademarks associated with the United States Military Academy belong to the Department of the Army, and their use requires the grant of a royalty-bearing license. The trademark page of Academy website states in part:
The Department of Army owns the trademarks associated with the United States Military Academy, and has authorized the Military Academy to administer the trademark program. The marks are controlled by the Office of the Directorate of Intercollegiate Athletics and the Association of Graduates. The Collegiate Licensing Company of Atlanta, GA oversees the use of the trademarks on products and grants licenses for their use. Collegiate Licensing Company also polices and enforces the marks and is a vital partner with the Department of Army in ensuring West Point’s names, symbols, and colors are used in a manner consistent with its reputation as a builder of leaders of character prepared for service to the Nation as an Army officer.
To use any USMA-related trademark on any item or in connection with any service, a potential vendor must first obtain a license, or permission, to use the trademark from CLC. Licenses generate royalties, which are paid into the general funds of both ODIA and AOG to directly support the Corps of Cadets. West Point’s Licensing Director works with CLC to ensure only the highest-quality goods and services carry the USMA-related trademarks and is the final approval authority.
Is anyone watching the store?