Revving up the litigation
Another challenge accepted!
In case you’re on the hunt for 2000+ words on the Hells Angels legal strategy … https://t.co/vdtI1f19kF— Julie Zerbo (@ZerboJulie) April 3, 2019
It is common knowledge that the Hells Angels logo and the club’s other insignia are utterly off-limits to all but a select group of individuals. In the “rule-bound world of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club,” investigative reporter Serge F. Kovaleski, stated in 2013, “only full members are permitted to wear the provocative death’s-head patch or the two words of the club’s name, which, like the logo,” are protected by law across the globe. Patches cannot be bought. They may only be earned, and oftentimes, that takes years.
Wow. That’s what I call “authorized use.”
But that’s the whole point of the article. Kind of:
As the stories go, if a Hells Angel member “sees somebody with a Hells Angel patch that doesn’t belong on his back,” he will rip it off and bestow upon him a brutal, often-bloody lesson. “The Angels have always dealt swiftly with fakes, phonies – imposters,” Intellectual Property Magazine wrote a few years ago. “That’s one of the reasons why the patch is so important – it’s a mark of authenticity.”
If the 70-year old club learns of a company making use of its legally – and sometimes physically – protected logos, its members take a markedly different approach; they take legal action.
Julie doesn’t beat around the bush regarding whom we we’re dealing with here. On the other hand, you can’t really surround a company (well, a big company) in a dead end street and beat it senseless with lead pipes.
On the other hand, as much as I like their sometime-lawyer Fritz Clapp (and I do!), you do have to admit they’re rather easily impressed:
In his interview with [“club” member James “]Guinea[” Colucci], who, according to the Los Angeles Times, had just “been released on charges of dealing in methamphetamines, cocaine, illegal weapons and explosives,” Clapp says that he was asked what he would do if somebody infringed one of the Hells Angels trademarks.
“I said, ‘Well, we’ll send them a cease and desist [letter],’” Clapp recalls.
“What would you do if they do not cease and desist?,” Guinea followed up.
“I said, ‘Well, then I’ll sue their ass,’” Clapp responded.
“That was obviously the right answer,” he says more than 25 years later. Shortly thereafter, the red mohawk-bearing attorney was brought on board, and would dedicate a large part of his professional career to helping what he calls “the most famous club in the entire world” to protect its valuable intellectual property.
The only other answer to that question I can imagine is, “Why, I’ll curl up into a ball and weep” And you wouldn’t have to be the Hell’s Angels to be less than excited with that one. But if you know anything about Fritz (and if you read the article, or the interview at the link on his picture in this post, you will), you’ll agree he was and is the right man for the job.
But look beyond the headline-making Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act indictments, jury verdicts, and lengthy prison sentences, and you will see that over the past two decades or so, a different type of lawsuit has come to be associated with the group: intellectual property litigation.
There’s a really good punchline here but I guess, after 14 years of blogging and twice that amount of “intellectual property” litigation, I’ve got to punt because I can’t extract it from my humerus. But I do think you know what I mean.