LegalZoom Blog

Legal news and small business tips.

Who Owns ‘Peace Through Strength?’

no comments yet


President Ronald Reagan / image via Wikimedia Commons

Although the holidays are traditionally a time for peace and goodwill toward men, that concept apparently does not extend to trademark battles.

Two conservative groups and several members of President Ronald Reagan’s national security team disagree over who owns or should own the phrase “peace through strength,” which Reagan made popular during his electoral campaign against President Jimmy Carter in 1980.

The battle began when the American Security Council Foundation (ASCF) sued the Center for Security Policy (CSP), a conservative think tank, for using the phrase “peace through strength” in its promotional materials. The ASCF uses the phrase as a slogan on the homepage of its website just under its name — followed by an encircled R, denoting that it has registered the trademark.

The American Freedom Law Center responded to the lawsuit by noting that CSP’s president, who also served under President Reagan, has been using the term publicly for more than twenty years. “According to ASCF’s absurd claim to a trademark, apparently even the Republican Party will have to seek ASCF’s permission to include the call for ‘Peace through Strength’ in its political platform going forward.  That is how absurd this trademark claim is,” said attorney David Yerushalmi in an official statement.

And the CSP also has  17 Reagan administration officials including Edwin Meese and former National Security Adviser William P. Clark on its side. The group  has sent a letter requesting that the ASCF stop trying to lay claim to the phrase. The letter stated, in part:

For those of us who proudly served with President Reagan, it is unimaginable that anyone would seek to own a phrase immortalized by him – and, as a result, made not only an enduring feature of our country’s political lexicon, but a touchstone for all those who love freedom, and understand what is required to safeguard it.

Donald Smith, the ASCF Chairman of the Board, maintains that his group came up with the concept, appropriately registered the trademark, and is not “impeding the use of this phrase or concept.” The ASCF maintains that Reagan even credited the group with coining the phrase.

“Peace through strength,” however, has been around for quite a long time. It has its own page on Wikipedia, where the phrase is noted to have been used by Roman Emperor Hadrian as well as by Bernard Baruch, a former advisor to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, for the title of his 1952 book about a defense plan.

Do you think these similarly minded groups will be able to make peace over “peace through strength?” Who should own the trademark, if anyone?


ShareShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on LinkedInEmail this to someone

Sign up for the LegalZoom newsletter!

Written by

December 27th, 2012 at 5:45 am

Posted in Intellectual Property

Tagged with