Ronald Reagan’s Legacy Preserved: AFLC Wins Favorable Settlement in Trademark Battle over Famous Slogan

Washington, D.C. (August 5, 2013) — The American Freedom Law Center (AFLC), a national nonprofit public interest law firm, has negotiated a settlement agreement to end a federal lawsuit filed last year concerning the use of the well-known slogan, “Peace through Strength,” which was popularized by President Ronald Reagan as he led America to victory in the Cold War.  

The American Security Council Foundation (ASCF), a small policy organization now based in Florida, had promoted the slogan that became one of Mr. Reagan’s enduring legacies, in the years prior to and during the Reagan presidency, but has largely been out of the public eye since the early 1990s.  In 2011, the ASCF trademarked the phrase, despite its widespread use, and subsequently threatened to sue any individual or organization that used the slogan without its permission.  

Since its founding in 1988, the Center for Security Policy (CSP), a prominent Washington, D.C.-based national security think tank headed by Frank Gaffney, who formerly acted as an Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Policy in the Reagan administration, has used “peace through strength” to describe its guiding philosophy and the goal it seeks to advance in its public policy research and advocacy.  Many other organizations have embraced the term as well, including the Republican Party and large numbers of politicians and policy analysts to describe their commitment to a strong national defense.  

In October 2012, ASCF singled out CSP for litigation in a federal lawsuit claiming trademark infringement.  Mr. Gaffney was named as a defendant, as well.

As a result of the lawsuit and with the strong encouragement of former Reagan administration officials led by National Security Advisor to the President William P. Clark and Attorney General Edwin Meese – many of whom signed an open letter criticizing the ASCF’s effort to usurp the Reagan legacy, the Center for Security Policy elected to stand up for the principle that this historic phrase should be utilized as widely as possible, not expropriated for a single organization’s exclusive use and benefit.  CSP enlisted the American Freedom Law Center (AFLC) to provide legal assistance.  AFLC went on the offensive and filed counterclaims against ASCF alleging fraud in the procurement of the United States Patent & Trademark Office trademark registration.

After preparing the groundwork through careful discovery and expert testimony, CSP and Mr. Gaffney’s lawyers at AFLC offered ASCF a way out of a very costly and reckless lawsuit: Dismiss all claims against CSP and Mr. Gaffney; cancel the improper trademark of “Peace through Strength”; agree never to claim hereafter exclusive ownership of the famous phrase; and pay CSP an amount in settlement to cover some of CSP’s litigation costs.  On Thursday, August 1, with Magistrate Judge Alan Kay acting as a mediator, ASCF agreed to all of these terms.

AFLC Co-Founder and Senior Counsel David Yerushalmi, who also serves as CSP’s General Counsel, commented: “The phrase ‘Peace through Strength’ is now as it should always be – a prescription for American security linked indelibly to Ronald Reagan and free to be embraced, espoused and advanced by everyone who loves freedom.  We are delighted at this outcome.”