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GI BILL is Now a Registered Trademark

GI BILL is Now a Registered Trademark

Is there anything worse than people who try to take unfair advantage of war veterans? If so, I don’t want to know about it. Unfortunately, some unscrupulous folks have been trying to do just that, and the U.S. Government has turned to trademark law to try to assist our nation’s heroes.

Reports began to surface earlier this year that for-profit schools have been bombarding veterans with offers in an attempt to extract some of the tens of billions of dollars paid out by the government through the Post-9/11 GI Bill. Like the original GI Bill, which dates back to 1944, this act was intended to provide educational opportunities for war veterans who are in the often-difficult process of returning to peacetime society. The term “GI Bill” (as you might expect, the actual congressional bills have longer names) has been in common use for almost 70 years, but was never actually registered as a trademark.

Recent veterans seeking access to these benefits were surprised to find that sites such as gibill.com were actually commercial, for-profit entities whose interests were not always aligned with those of the veterans themselves. The Obama Administration directed the Department of Veterans Affairs to register the mark GI BILL with the United States Patent and Trademark Office in order for the government to be able to exercise control over uses of the term. GI BILL is now a registered trademark in connection with the following services: “Providing education benefits, namely, financial assistance such as accelerated payment and tuition assistance for institutions of higher learning, non-college degree programs, on-the-job training and apprenticeship training, flight training, independent training, distance learning and internet training, correspondence training, national testing programs, licensing and certification; entrepreneurship training, work-study programs, and co-op training to Veterans, Servicemembers, National Guard members, Selected Reserve members, and eligible dependents.”

The website gibill.com now directs visitors to the Department of Veterans Affairs own GI Bill website, and the government has promised to be aggressive in going after anyone who is trying to defraud veterans. While this isn’t a perfect solution, it’s an illustration of how trademark law can be used creatively by government entities to safeguard the interests of the public.

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