Official Military Service Seals & Other Protected Marks

The Department of Defense (DOD) and Military Seals may be used only by the Military Departments for official purposes and are protected by law from unauthorized use. These seals may also be displayed in Federal buildings, but not on other Federal agency flyers or other promotional material. These seals are not authorized on county, state, or Federal modes of transportation.

Military Services and other DOD Components have many other protected insignia that are both graphic and word marks. Some of those marks include, but are not limited to, the United States Army; United States Marine Corps; United States Navy; United States Air Force; United States Coast Guard, and United States Space Force.

Each Military Service has a Trademark Licensing Program Office that manages not only the Military Service headquarters' trademarks but also unit insignia. These emblems, coats of arms, initials, symbols and other military identifiers may not be used without prior written permission. Some Military Service slogans and acronyms may also be protected and require prior written permission before use.

Whenever making a permissible use of a Military Service mark, a prominent disclaimer, must be included. Example: "This activity supports the U.S. military and its veterans; however, it is not officially connected to or endorsed by the U.S. Department of Defense or any of its branches."

Colleges and Universities Use of Military Service Marks

Colleges and universities must abide by the rules of engagement related to the appropriate use of Military Service marks protected by law and the DOD Trademark Licensing Program.

The following guidance applies to all colleges and universities, except Military Service Academies.

Public Plaques, Displays, Booths and Memorials

Use of official DOD or Military Service seals is not permitted. Military Service marks may be used with prior written permission from the specific Military Trademark Licensing Program Office. This applies to all public memorials, including public-facing walls, banners, displays, or other décor.

Exceptions (with prior written permission) may exist for:

  • Displays, including banners and other décor located in veteran designated spaces only
  • Student veteran memorial walls that include names of Service members only
  • Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) programs on college/university campuses

Orientation events, including student veteran booth displays should rely on traditional marketing and branding efforts, rather than on Military Service marks use, to attract veterans.

Patriotic Special Events

The use of Military Service marks may be authorized on flags and written programs for special events recognizing patriotic holidays -- Memorial Day, Armed Forces Day, Independence Day, or Veterans Day -- only if college/university branding is not also incorporated.

Sports Teams and Athletics

Limited written permission to use protected Military Service marks may be considered on a case-by-case basis for team uniforms during military appreciation events or games. Each respective Military Service Trademark Licensing Program Office must be contacted at least 60 days in advance of the event or game to obtain this limited consideration. 

Student-Run Veteran Organizations on Campus

Student-run veteran organizations on campus have permission to use Military Service marks (excluding official Military Service seals) and may print a limited supply (i.e., enough for the current membership of the organization) of products from the appropriate Military Service Trademark Licensing Program Office's authorized vendors, to represent their college/university and veteran status. For example, student-run veteran organizations may print or embroider t-shirts or polo shirts with their college/university logo and military identifiers such as the Eagle, Globe and Anchor, the Air Force Symbol, or military phrases. This is permissible provided there is sufficient spacing between the college/university name or logo and Military Service marks. Student-run veteran organizations are not authorized to sell unlicensed merchandise and should limit authorized inventory to the current membership number.

Student Veterans Lounges

Military Service marks, authorized in writing by the Trademark Licensing Program Office(s), are permissible for display only inside a dedicated veterans' space, including the display of an emblem on etched glass, partition, banner or plaque within the confines of said space. Display of Military Service flags is also permissible in this instance.

ROTC Units

Active ROTC units are allowed to use official Military Service seals in accordance with applicable DOD policies and procedures.

Admissions, Veterans Affairs, and Alumni Offices, Service Centers, and Similar Offices

General statements within written text such as "We offer several educational programs to veterans" may be allowed. Support for the Military Services may be expressed with words in lieu of Military Service marks, such as "[College/University name] proudly supports the [Military Service name]."

Veterans Coins, Pins and Related Items (e.g.,hats, mugs, pins, decals lanyards, other swag items)

Student veterans may purchase from a Military Service authorized vendor licensed coins or pins that contain only Military Service marks.

  • These coins and pins manufactured under a valid Military Service licensing agreement may be distributed among student veterans who are associated with a particular college/university.
  • These permitted coins and pins must only be purchased from licensed manufacturers. A listing of companies authorized to manufacture and sell these coins and pins may be available by contacting the appropriate Military Service Trademark Licensing Program Office.
Graduation Gowns, Stoles, and Caps with Military Service Marks

Graduating Service members may purchase a single gown, stole or cap and affix personal Military Service marks to the graduation clothing or independently purchase the graduation gown, stole or cap that contains a Military Service mark from an approved vendor. Service members should contact the appropriate Military Service for further guidance.