Army wants anti-war alumni to stop using West Point name

Saturday, May 6, 2006

SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- The Army warned an anti-war group of former U.S. Military Academy cadets called West Point Graduates Against the War to stop using the words "West Point" in its name, saying they are trademarked.

The group, open to West Point graduates, spouses and children, claims about 50 members.

West Point spokesman Lt. Col. Kent Cassella said the academy sent the April 12 warning letter because the group failed to go through a licensing process to get permission to use the term "West Point." The group's anti-war stance is irrelevant, he said.

"This is not a political issue. They did not ask for permission. We are doing what any college or university would do to enforce its trademarks," Cassella said.

The Army registered the words "West Point" -- as well as "United States Military Academy," "USMA," and "U.S. Army" -- as trademarks in 2000 to control their use on educational material and commercial goods.

An attorney hired by Cross and his colleagues said the warning raises questions of First Amendment speech protection and selective enforcement. Joseph Heath said he noted the concerns in a response sent to the Army on Monday; he has not yet received a reply, he said.

"I would hope that the Army would be proud of these men and their willingness to promote democracy and freedom of speech," wrote Heath, a Navy veteran who also opposes the war.

Heath also noted widespread commercial use of the words "West Point."

Cassella said the Army has negotiated agreements with local businesses allowing them to use the phrase in their names.

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