U.S. Senator Kay Hagan is co-sponsoring the GI Bill Protection Act of 2013, which would permanently prohibit for-profit colleges from abusing the phrase "GI Bill" to intentionally mislead veterans.
"It's crucial that we permanently prevent for-profit colleges from using predatory marketing tactics that target our veterans and seek to take advantage of their hard-earned education benefits," Hagan said. "Congress needs to act to make the VA's trademark of the "GI Bill' phrase permanent to ensure that we are protecting our veterans from deceptive advertising."
Hagan's husband, Chip, a Navy Vietnam veteran, attended law school with help from the GI Bill.
"The GI Bill has been critical for expanding access to education for our brave veterans who have done so much to serve this country," Hagan said. "The GI Bill has transformed and improved millions of lives, and we cannot allow anyone to abuse this federal education funding for their own profit."
The GI Bill Protection Act of 2013 has been endorsed by the Military Officers of Association America and the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
In March 2012, Hagan and 13 Senate colleagues sent a letter to United States Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki urging him to submit an application to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) to trademark the phrase "GI Bill" in order to help curb abuses of the phrase by for-profit colleges.
In April 2012, President Obama issued an executive order requiring the Department of Veteran Affairs to follow through with this application. In December 2012, Secretary Shinseki announced that the VA had successfully registered "GI Bill" as a trademark.
However, trademark protection is not always permanent. The owner of the trademark must actively maintain the protection by pursuing those who are improperly using the trademarked property. If a trademark is not maintained, the protection expires. The GI Protection Act of 2013 would provide the same permanent protection for the phrase "GI Bill" already enjoyed by many pieces of government intellectual property, such as Medicare and Social Security.