Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Veterans fighting over the flower of peace

CBC reports that The Royal Canadian Legion is threatening legal action against another Canadian veteran group for using a red poppy as part of their logo.

The Legion, don't you know, trademarked the red plastic lapel poppy as a symbol of remembering Canada's war dead. They're the ones you're supporting when you pick one up at the liquor store.

Last year, the Legion threatened action against another group, who had designed a white poppy to represent peace.

This year's legal letter, from the IP firm Ridout and Maybee LLP to Canadian Veteran Freedom Riders (CVFR), says "We must insist that the CVFR and all of its members immediately cease all use of trademarks or other indicia incorporating the Legion's protected mark 'poppy design' and any of the Legion poppy trademarks."

Apparently, according to the Trademarks Act, every group must legitimately apply to the Legion use the poppy in any way.

A spokesman for the Legion said, "The poppy's a strong symbol, so when you see the poppy you automatically think it's for veterans and remembrance. Therefore, it must be legitimate all the time."
He added that if one organization is allowed to use the poppy, the flood gates would open for other groups.

The veteran bikers are not amused. "It's a slap in the face," said Capt. Michael Blow. "I'm a veteran, I wear that poppy for remembrance, I don't wear it for profit."

What on earth is wrong with the Royal Canadian Legion? They are acting like a soulless commercial brand protecting their stranglehold on a symbol. The moral "owner" of the poppy as a symbol for the war dead was Canadian soldier/poet John McCrae, who wrote "In Flanders Fields", but he died in the war (of disease, like many others). Following the publishing of his poem, the red poppy became the symbol of honouring war dead — and hoping for no more war — throughout the Commonwealth. The symbol, in essence, belongs to all of us. But it especially belongs to every Canadian who has served his or her country.

Good thing the Legion didn't take out a predatory trademark on the maple leaf, the beaver or the toque. Because then we'd have to ask permission to use any of our national symbols.


  1. This makes me sad.. It's sad that A VETERAN'S group, of all things, seems to be losing sight of what the poppy means.

  2. > designed a white poppy to represent peace.

    Isn't the white poppy the one used for opium?

  3. I didn't realize the Canadian legion (which I didn't know existed) was so identical to the American legion. They have poppies too.