A Navy logo has been used for 20 years, beginning in 1994, that was not copyrighted. The Navy finally applied for the copyright in 2013. Does the user for 20 years have to stop using the logo?
No. If you can show prior continued use before the NAVY then you will have senior rights to the mark. You also will have had to have used it in interstate commerce not just locally. In addition, you may be in a good position to negotiate with the NAVY depending on what you want to do. This situation requires you to contact an IP attorney who handles trademark and trademark litigation. But I would do so before the NAVY's trademark issues so that you can institute proceedings in the USPTO to interfere with any potential registration. If the NAVY's mark has already issued, an attorney could write the appropriate letter to try to resolve it. But do not wait. Good luck!
A question arises as to the ability of the United States Government being able to obtain copyright protection. Since the issue if Copyright there is apparently no interest in the use of the logo in commerce. However, if the logo was used by the Asker for commercial purposes then Trademark issues do arise. See Intellectual Property counsel.
My comments have been made without discussion. An attorney client relationship has not been established. There may be conflicts which prohibit my providing you with specific legal guidance. Any contact with you beyond these few general words will start with a disclosure of opposing parties so that a conflict check can be made. You should discuss with an attorney.
Copyright arises at the time of creation whether or not registration is applied for. If you have prior use, then you may have copyright, and if you have prior use in commerce you may have common law trademark rights. Something tells me it's more complicated than your brief listing.
The above is general legal and business analysis. It is not "legal advice" but analysis, and different lawyers may analyse this matter differently, especially if there are additional facts not reflected in the question. I am not your attorney until retained by a written retainer agreement signed by both of us. I am only licensed in California. See also avvo.com terms and conditions item 9, incorporated as if it was reprinted here.
There seems to be some confusion in your question as to whether we are talking about a trademark issue or a copyright issue. Trademarks protect names or logos that are used in commerce to signify the source of goods. Copyrights protect works of authorship such as literary, visual, and musical works. It is possible that a business logos can be protected by both copyright and trademark.
Copyrights exist as soon as a work is created (we lawyers refer to creation as the work being "fixed in a tangible medium of expression). The copyright exists even if it is not registered. However, works made by U.S. Government employees are generally not eligible for copyright protection.
There is a likelihood that continued use of the logo would be trademark infringement. You should speak with an attorney.
I understand you question somewhat different than my colleagues. I think you are saying that the US Navy had a logo and you copied it some 20 years ago and have been using it for 20 years and just recently the US Navy applied to register the logo as a trademark and now you wonder if you have to stop using it.
You should review 18 USC 506 http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/506 and 18 USC 1017 http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/1017
You have your facts wrong, since the Navy cannot copyright its logos in view of 17 USC 105 http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/17/105 unless that logo was authored by a non-governmental entity and the copyright transferred to the Navy. Recheck your facts.
I am not your lawyer and you are not my client. Free advice here is without recourse and any reliance thereupon is at your sole risk. This is done without compensation as a free public service. I am licensed in IL, MO, TX and I am a Reg. Pat. Atty. so advice in any other jurisdiction is strictly general advice and should be confirmed with an attorney licensed in that jurisdiction.
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