U.S. Senator Kay Hagan on Tuesday applauded the decision by the Department of Veterans Affairs to register “GI Bill” as a trademark. Earlier this year, Hagan urged VA Secretary Eric Shinseki to trademark the phrase in order to protect veterans from deceptive marketing by some for-profit colleges, and she co-sponsored legislation to permanently prohibit the inappropriate and misleading use of the phrase.
“Today’s decision to trademark the phrase ‘GI Bill’ is a significant step towards ensuring that our veterans are not deceived when seeking to further their education,” Hagan said. “I will not tolerate any efforts that intentionally mislead our brave veterans and their families as they decide how to use their GI Bill benefits. I urge my colleagues to support legislation to permanently prohibit abuse of ‘GI Bill,’ which has been a symbol of our nation’s obligations to give back to those who serve.”
In March, Hagan and 13 Senate colleagues sent a letter to Secretary Shinseki urging him to submit an application to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to trademark the phrase “GI Bill” in order to help curb abuses of the phrase.
Hagan joined national leaders in June to announce that the website GIBill.com had been turned over to the VA after being managed by a company mimicking the layout and format of the official GI Bill website. This tactic led veterans to believe that their benefits could only be used at the schools listed on the website, which were almost exclusively for-profit colleges.
In June, Hagan co-sponsored The GI Bill Protection Act of 2012, which would permanently prohibit the inappropriate and misleading use of the phrase “GI Bill” in the marketing materials of for-profit colleges. Statutory protection is necessary to permanently protect the term “GI Bill,” as trademark protection is not always permanent. The owner of the trademark must actively maintain the protection by pursuing those who are improperly using the trademarked property. If a trademark is not maintained, the protection expires.