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Court Rules Latino Biker Gang Can Keep Logo

LOS ANGELES (CN) - A federal judge threw out an attempt to strip the Mongols Nation Motorcycle Club of its trademarked logo because the Latino gang was not part of an indictment against 79 of its members for murder, assault, drug trafficking and robbery.

The Mongols Nation argued that prosecutors had no right to seize the logo, which features a pony-tailed biker on a chopper, claiming it established ownership of the trademark more than four decades ago.

U.S. District Judge Otis Wright agreed, albeit "regrettably."

Wright noted that "there was no evidence" that one of the indicted members, Ruben Cavazos, former President of Mongols Nation, or his company, Shotgun Productions, ever owned the trademark-despite prosecutors claiming otherwise.

"The assignment of the marks to Shotgun Productions, an entity under Cavazos' sole control was invalid," the judge said. "The stated purpose of Shotgun was 'promotional and licensing services.' Clearly, Shotgun never used the mark to indicate membership in an organization substantially similar to that of Mongols Nation."

The judge said that the gang was not named in the indictment against gang members accused of racketeering activities.

"RICO does not impose criminal liability on the RICO enterprise if it is not named as a 'person,'" the judge concluded.

Mongols Nation's attorney, George Steele applauded the court's decision.

"We felt strongly the law was on our side, but it's difficult to impossible to predict the outcome of hotly contested legal issues," Steele told the L.A. Times. "But we felt our position was supported by the law, and apparently the court agreed."

Hispanic Vietnam war vets founded the Mongols Nation in the late sixties after the Hells Angles refused to include Latino members among its ranks.

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