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Sebelius: Don’t Use HHS Logo Without Permission

From the Politico:

Sebelius: Hands off HHS seal

By JOSH GERSTEIN | April 11, 2014

In one of her parting official acts, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius is warning Americans not to use her agency’s official seal or logo without permission.

Sebelius — who appeared in the White House Rose Garden on Friday to announce her resignation — formally approved rules Monday that seek to prevent abuse of the agency’s insignia by barring all use of the logo or seal by businesses, community groups or individuals without direct authorization from HHS headquarters.

Because everyone wants to be associated with HHS’s amazing successes. And we can’t allow that!

"The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is adopting requirements on the use of its official logo and seal. Use by any person or organization may be made only with prior written approval. Wrongful use of an official logo or seal is subject to administrative action and/or criminal penalty," the new regulations say.

By the way, isn’t this logo the property of the American people, just like every other government logo? We certainly paid for it.

In the notice, HHS says it does not expect negative reaction to the move to exert greater control over the agency’s insignia. "HHS believes that this rule is non-controversial, and HHS anticipates no significant adverse comment. If HHS receives a significant adverse comment, it will withdraw the rule," the notice says.

They snuck out this announcement on a late Friday evening so there wouldn’t be any adverse comment.

On their face, the new rules appear to prohibit the use of HHS’s logo in polticial [sic] materials, criticism or parody — even in news coverage.

Which, we suspect is the real reason for this rule.

They explicitly apply to use of the insignia by both "non-profit" and "advocacy" groups.

Now that the advocacy groups have gotten their way.

Similar policies have provoked controversy and litigation when other agencies sought to enforce them. One First Amendment lawyer said Friday that the HHS rules should have made clear that under many circumstances use of an official logo is constitiutionally [sic] protected, even without permission.

"It would certainly be wiser to put in the rule a recognition that a non-confusing use is not something they can forbid," said Paul Levy of Public Citizen. The HHS rule cites three statutes that seek to control use of HHS and Social Security logos. "If somebody wanted to say ‘I love HHS’ and wear it on a T-shirt, they should be able to do that. It’s even more of a problem to forbid people using it in commentary or a critical context."

In February, Levy reached a settlement with the National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security over those agencies’ efforts to ban sale of parody T-shirts by a Minnesota man, Dan McCall. "As a practical matter, they apologized," Levy said…

In other words, HHS is trying to get special protection that not even NSA or DHS have.

The HHS notice was posted online Friday and is set to appear in the Federal Register next week.

As usual, they tried to sneak this out when nobody was paying attention.

The new regulations also provide a helpful verbal description of the agency’s logo, which features nested outlines of faces alongside a rough outline of an eagle’s head.

"It represents the American People sheltered in the wing of the American Eagle, suggesting the Department’s concern and responsibility for the welfare of the people," the agency says.

What a beautiful sentiment.

This article was posted by Steve Gilbert on Monday, April 14th, 2014. Comments are currently closed.

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