Federal prosecutors in California pressed ahead with a novel attempt to dismantle an outlaw motorcycle club, arguing to jurors that the group should be stripped of trademarks it owns on its coveted insignia as punishment for operating a criminal organization.
Last month, at the end of a lengthy trial, a jury in Santa Ana convicted the Mongols motorcycle club of racketeering and conspiracy charges, finding the group shared responsibility for several violent acts and drug crimes committed by individual Mongol members.
Following the guilty verdict, U.S. District Judge David O. Carter had jurors return to court this week to make another decision: Whether the club’s insignia was linked closely enough to the crimes to warrant forcing the Mongols to forfeit the group’s trademarks to the U.S. government.
If there is one thing on which both sides in the case agree it is that the club’s trademarked logo — a Ghengis Khan figure in sunglasses riding a motorcycle beneath the group’s name in large block letters — is the cornerstone of the Mongols’ identity. Only members are permitted to wear large patches of the insignia on the back of their riding vests — an unmistakable totem in the insular, hierarchical world of motorcycle clubs, in which full-fledged members lord their superiority over aspiring plebes and rival clubs often clash violently in turf battles.
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