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Right to Exclusive use of Emblems and Insignia

Associations may protect themselves from injuries resulting from the fraudulent use of their association name or similar names by other like organizations.[i] Incorporation does not allow to use another association’s name or similar names of other like unincorporated organization.  In National Circle, etc. v. National Order, etc., 270 F. 723 (2d Cir. N.Y. 1920), the court held that incorporation of an organization under a particular name does not give it any right to the use of an existing association name as against another unincorporated organization already using the same or a similar name.

The right to injunctive relief against the improper use of a corporate name is not limited to corporations engaged in business and trade, but it extends to charitable, religious, benevolent, and civic societies.[ii] Thus a benevolent, fraternal, or social organization will be protected in the use of its name, insignia, and the such by injunction to restrain another organization from using the same, or other names so similar as to be misleading.[iii]

In Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge, etc. v. Most Worshipful Hiram Grand Lodge, etc., 85 Colo. 17 (Colo. 1928), the court held that an established voluntary association is entitled to an injunction against the use by another person, association, or corporation of its name or emblem so similar to it that it will likely create confusion, deceive, induce persons to join, or treat the latter as the former.

The regulations surrounding display of badges or insignia of associations fall under a state’s exercise of its police powers.[iv] The police power of a state is effected through regulations designed to promote the public welfare, as well as regulations designed to promote the public health, the public morals, and the public safety.[v]

Further, no constitutional privileges or immunities are denied to a citizen when a statute forbids him/her to wear or display the badge or insignia of a society of which he/she is not a member.[vi]

[i] Modern Woodmen of American v. Hatfield, 199 F. 270 (D. Kan. 1912)

[ii] National Circle, etc. v. National Order, etc., 270 F. 723 (2d Cir. N.Y. 1920)

[iii] Faisan v. Adair, 144 Ga. 797 (Ga. 1916)

[iv] Hammer v. State, 173 Ind. 199 (Ind. 1909)

[v] Mutual Loan Co. v. Martell, 222 U.S. 225 (U.S. 1911)

[vi] State v. Turner, 183 Kan. 496 (Kan. 1958)

Inside Right to Exclusive use of Emblems and Insignia