Prosecutors Back Off Seizure of Biker Club TM Registrations

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By Anandashankar Mazumdar

Aug. 29 — Federal prosecutors in Michigan are backing off efforts to seize a trademark registration held by the Devils Diciples biker club, according to Aug. 29 filings in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan ( United States v. Sutherland, E.D. Mich., No. 11-20129, notice of dismissal and application for entry of amendment, 8/29/16 ).

A racketeering prosecution against dozens of members of the Devils Diciples in Michigan originally included a federal trademark registration among the property to be seized in connection with criminal charges.

Source Material:

United States v. Sutherland

Application of Entry of Amendment: Aug. 29, 2016

Notice of Dismissal: Aug. 29, 2016

However, Assistant U.S. Attorney Linda Aouate of Detroit told Bloomberg BNA that the government has decided to exclude the registration from the list of forfeiture items because the actual owner of the registration is not one of the biker club members under indictment.

Devils Diciples' lawyer Fritz Clapp of Pomona, California, told Bloomberg BNA that he intended to try to persuade the Department of Justice to amend its asset forfeiture guidelines to clarify that it's futile to try to seize trademark registrations in cases like this one.

“These filings don't reflect any position on the futility argument and that's one of the reasons I was going to continue to press forward to get that into the policy manual,” Clapp said.

The Devils Diciples case raised issues of trademark law similar to those raised in a California criminal case against the Mongols motorcycle club, where prosecutors have similarly sought to seize trademark registrations (151 PTD, 8/5/16).

To contact the reporter on this story: Anandashankar Mazumdar in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mike Wilczek at

For More Information

Text of application of entry of amendment available at

Text of notice of dismissal available at

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