The National Symbols Cache

The intersection of intellectual-property laws and government works is an interesting topic. But last night I happened across a delightfully random law entitled An Act To prevent the unauthorized manufacture and use of the character ‘Woodsy Owl’, and for other purposes, Pub. L. No. 93-317, 88 Stat. 244.

In the act, Congress made “Woodsy Owl” part of the “National Symbols Cache,” and declared their name and likeness the property of the United States. The definition of Woodsy Owl, though, is a… hoot!

(1) the term “Woodsy Owl” means the name and representation of a fanciful owl, who wears slacks (forest green when colored), a belt (brown when colored), and a Robin Hood style hat (forest green when colored) with a feather (red when colored), and who furthers the slogan, “Give a Hoot, Don’t Pollute”, originated by the Forest Service of the United States Department of Agriculture;

A fanciful owl, indeed!

A careful reader might observe that the act also references Smokey Bear in decidedly less colorful terms. That’s because Smokey Bear was protected by a more staid Congress in 1952 when it passed An Act Prohibiting the manufacture or use of the character ‘Smokey Bear’ by unauthorized persons, Pub. L. No. 93-318, 66 Stat. 92.

That said, looks like Smokey Bear ended up winning the popularity contest: