The issue of who owns the name of the Armed Forces newspaper has pitted the publisher of its domestic edition against an alumni organization of ex-Stars and Stripes staffers, which also used the title on its membership newsletter.
A lawsuit recently was threatened by the publisher of Stars and Stripes against the Stars and Stripes Association Inc. (SSA), the alumni group, and ill feelings have surfaced on both sides.
But now it appears the association will, unhappily, agree to change its name, depending on a poll of the membership.
The lead story of the February issue of the newsletter bore the headline "What an Outrage!" a quote from one member who swore the name Stars and Stripes will be "engraved on my tombstone."
The domestic edition of the Washington, D.C.-based Stars and Stripes is published by the National Tribune Corp., a private company whose chairman, Howard E. Haugerud, is also publisher of the Stars and Stripes stateside edition. Haugerud claims National Tribune has owned the Stars and Stripes trademark since 1926 (acquired by its former owner) and that its use by any other publication is an illegal infringement.
"That trademark belongs to me," the publisher told E&P. "If you don't protect your trademark, you're dog meat and risk losing it. They [the Stars and Stripes Association] have created a lot of problems for me.
So much so, it seems, that Haugerud's Washington attorney, Nina Graybill, informed association secretary and newsletter editor Maurice Martin that her client objected to SSA's "continued flagrant and willful abuse" of the trademark and that the association was responsible for "certain untrue and defamatory statements" about the National Tribune.
Graybill advised the association to consult an attorney about possible litigation against it.
However, in a subsequent fax to Harold G. Clarke, a retired justice of the Georgia Supreme Court and an SSA member acting as its legal counsel, Graybill offered a "very fair resolution" of the conflict: National Tribune would allow use of its logo if SSA prominently displays it on its newsletter, letterheads, invoices, etc., along with a statement acknowledging the trademark belongs to National Tribune and is being used with permission.
"We're probably going to change our name," said Martin, a former civilian circulation manager for Pacific Stars and Stripes and a retired attorney in Saratoga, Calif.
"They have more money than we do, although there are lots of people in this organization who want to fight them. I've offered to put up $5,000 and others have pledged money. They are steamed up about this."
Also willing to help finance a legal fight is 60 Minutes commentator and syndicated columnist Andy Rooney, a World War II Stars and Stripe contributer, who called Haugerud's action an "outrage."How anybody can appropriate a name as generic as Star and Stripes, I find hard to believe," he said. "It's like owning the Star-Spangled Banner."
Martin said he could not understand Haugerud's attitude."We are not in competition with them," he explained. "We're not a commercial operation and can't hurt them."
SSA, he said, has 450 members worldwide. The organization's March newsletter reported that a "preliminary" survey of members showed they preferred a name change rather than carry the trademark note and required footnotes.
SSA president Lyle J. McBride of Anaheim, Calif., accused Haugerud of "creating a tempest in a teapot, stirring up our members."
"No one else but us is using Stars and Stripes," he asserted.
In a recent letter to Graybill, Martin said he had been authorized by SSA's executive committee to drop the words Stars and Stripes from its name and newsletter banner, pending action by the full board of directors.
He noted that the change will require the approval of the membership and California's Secretary of State.
The March newsletter identified it as the Stripes Association News, a switch from the February issue in which it was called the Association of Stripers with the traditional Stars and Stripes crossed flags between "The" and "Stripers." The latter logo prompted member Bob Tonsing to comment that it read as if SSA was an "association of striped bass fishermen."
Hal Morris, Stars and Stripes news editor in Toyko during the Korean War and now a Las Vegas-based freelance writer, scoffed at Haugerud's insistence on name ownership.
"This is much along the lines of the McDonald's attorneys getting excited every time something is called McSomething," he said. "The American flag is also called the 'Stars and Stripes.' Are they going to sue every time someone refers to the flag as the Stars and Stripes?
"And what about the John Philip Sousa march, 'The Stars and Stripes Forever'? Will that be banned, too?" Morris continued.
Another SSA member, Jack Foise, a combat reporter for the Mediterranean Stars and Stripes in World War II and later a longtime foreign correspondent for the Los Angeles Times, took a similar view.
Foise, now retired in Oregon, told E&P: "Why all this attachment by them [National Tribune] to the name? What's the difference if we use it? We're not selling our newsletter. People who used to work on the sheet [Stars and Stripes] can't get worked up over their complaint.
"My understanding is that the name really belongs to the Pentagon, anyway."
Not so, countered Haugerud. In fact, he said, the National Tribune Corp. granted the War Department use of the Stars and Stripes name "as a patriotic gesture" in 1942 for the duration of World War II.
Moreover, the publisher produced a 1968 letter from then-Assistant Secretary of Defense Alfred B. Fitt to a U.S. Senator, acknowledging that the Stars and Stripes logo "is a registered trademark owned by the National Tribune Corporation."
Haugerud offered another letter, dated 1978, from Army Col. Billy E. Spangler, then-editor in chief of the European Stars and Stripes, requesting permission to keep the name on that newspaper.
"We get requests like this all the time," most of them refused, Haugerud said.
He cited, as an example, an application from a dirt stock car racer, who noted that his vehicles were red, white and blue with stars. He wanted to know if "we can call ourselves the Stars and Stripes Racing Team."
The issue of
who owns the name of the Armed Forces newspaper, Stars and Stripes,
has pitted the publisher of
an alumni organization of ex-staffers
?(A lawsuit recently was threatened by the publisher of Stars and Stripes newspaper against the Stars and Stripes Association Inc. (SSA), the alumni group, over the group's use of the name, including on its newsletter. It appears the association will, unhappily, agree to change its name, depending on a poll of the membership.) [Caption & Photo]
By: M.L. STEIN WHAT'S IN A name? Plenty of rancor if the name is Stars and Stripes.