Hikvision Partner "Homeland Surveillance" Distorts US Government Seals

By Isabella Cheng, Published Sep 16, 2021, 10:04am EDT

A Hikvision USA partner, Homeland Surveillance, who recently petitioned the FCC, uses a logo that distorts elements of regulated US government seals.

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The President of Homeland Surveillance, Sruli Gold, told IPVM that "we have seriously considered the amendments, legal definition and context to be in accordance with US law and clear enough to not be mistaken as a Government entity," including providing 9 steps they took not to be mistaken.

In this report, we examine the company's logos, its usage, and the regulations around the use of US government seals.

Company Background

Homeland Surveillance, Investigations & Installations is a Brooklyn, NY, integrator, founded in 2011, with 11 employees (per LinkedIn).

Petitioning US Government For Hikvision

Last month, Homeland Surveillance petitioned the US government in support of Hikvision explaining:

Our company incorporated in December of 2011 as a NY State licensed security and fire alarm installation company. To date we have installed and maintain +60,000 cameras in NYC and the surrounding areas. We have tried to install many different camera manufacturers models, some built in Korea, some in the USA and some in China. We were completely against using Hikvision products and we did everything that we could to stay away from them as they represented inferior quality, bad warranties and the lower end of the professional spectrum of CCTV hardware. However, without getting technical, we continued to have problems with the other camera manufacturers, images did not display true colors, cameras rated for harsh conditions did not last in harsh conditions, camera image quality was reduced after the installation and the cameras did not transmit true images 1 year later. We also experienced dry-rot, a condition that the camera lenses dry and crack, among other issues. With no choice we experimented with the Hikvision products and we were truly surprised to find the following when using Hikvision professional grade products (more)

Logo Usage

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The company's logo is clearly displayed on Homeland Surveillance's website and LinkedIn profile:

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The seal is used on the outside of its work trucks and highly visible to the public:

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Regulation of US Government Seals

US Federal law prohibites displaying likenesses of US government seals in advertising that may reasonably convey a false impression of sponsorhip or approval of the US government. The question is whether this logo does.

Title 18 U.S. Code § 713 governs the use of the Great Seal and Presidential Seal:

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Whoever knowingly displays any printed or other likeness of the great seal of the United States, or of the seals of the President or the Vice President of the United States, or the seal of the United States Senate, or the seal of the United States House of Representatives, or the seal of the United States Congress, or any facsimile thereof, in, or in connection with, any advertisement, poster, circular, book, pamphlet, or other publication, public meeting, play, motion picture, telecast, or other production, or on any building, monument, or stationery, for the purpose of conveying, or in a manner reasonably calculated to convey, a false impression of sponsorship or approval by the Government of the United States or by any department, agency, or instrumentality thereof, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than six months, or both. [emphasis added]

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The key to liability is whether people have been confused by the resemblance between Homeland Surveillance's logo and US government seals. Aaron Moss, a copyright and trademark litigation attorney, told IPVM:

Ultimately, liability would come down to proving that any company using the seal did so in a manner that was reasonably calculated to convey a false impression that the company was sponsored by a governmental agency.

Although Moss was unsure how the government legally views cases that do not use an exact replica of a government seal, he suggested the use could be "risky" given the particular industry:

It could be risky, especially for a commercial company providing security or defense services, to use a logo resembling an official governmental seal.

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Stephen Carter, a professor at Yale Law School, wrote in the Chicago Tribune that the use of government seals is prohibited if it might be confusing:

The statute regulating (not “barring” or “prohibiting”) use of the presidential seal is drafted with care. Under Section 713, one commits a crime only by displaying the seal “in a manner reasonably calculated to convey a false impression of sponsorship or approval by the government of the United States or by any department, agency, or instrumentality thereof.” This language, borrowed from the law of unfair competition, is narrowly drafted to avoid trampling on First Amendment rights. Displaying a likeness of the seal is prohibited only when the use will create the “false impression of sponsorship or approval” — what courts in other contexts call “confusion as to source.”

In the law of trademark and unfair competition, it's not the use of someone else's brand name that's forbidden, but the use of that brand name in a way that might confuse the consumer. [emphasis added]

Homeland Surveillance Distorts US Government Seals

Homeland Surveillance's logo combines and distorts three US government elements:

(1) The center of the logo, including the eagle, constellation of stars above the eagle, and ribbon are from the Great Seal

(2) The larger ring of stars surrounding the eagle comes from the Presidential Seal

(3) The word "Homeland", from Homeland Security.

The graphic below shows how these 3 elements are combined:

9 Steps Taken Not To Be Mistaken For Government Office

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Sruli Gold, the President of Homeland Surveillance, told IPVM that the logo is based on an emblem for his brother's company (Presidential Interiors), "but obviously, it's a play on the Presidential Seal."

Gold enumerated 9 steps they say they took not to be mistaken for government office, copied in full below:

We have taken many steps to ensure that our logo is not mistaken as that of a government office, these include:

a) clearly including our company name around the logo

b) leaving out the prefix of "office of" or "department of"

c) including the word "installations" in our company name

d) replacing the branches and arrows with a video camera and handcuffs

e) we leave out "E Pluribus Unum"

f) we do not use gold or yellow coloring in our trim

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g) we do not use the word "seal"

h) our shield in the center of the eagle is squared and lined as opposed to triangled and open on top

i) our company logo is always displayed with our phone number and website like it is listed below in my email signature below. [embedded to the right]

Risk of Causing Confusion

The resemblance between Homeland Surveillance's logo and US governmental seals risks confusing the public into believing that the company may be affiliated with the US government.

Running the logo through Bing's reverse image search brings up search results for "United States Seal" and "Presidential Seal" as well as a number of official US government seals, for example, the Great Seal which is used by US embassies.

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Given that Homeland Surveillance is working in the security industry, the possibility of integrators being misidentified as Homeland Security personnel is increased. Gold, the President of Homeland Surveillance, told IPVM that people have contacted his company before, seeking immigration services (Immigration and Naturalization is one of the departments of the DHS):

Once in a while, very infrequently, we'll get a request from someone who has found us online, and they want to talk to an immigration person. With this, we tell them that they're not calling the right place.

US Government Responds to IPVM

IPVM first contacted DHS given the similarity between 'Homeland Surveillance' and 'Homeland Security", DHS told us that while the HOMELAND use resembled DHS, the seal more resembled the Great Seal:

It is not the center eagle/seal of DHS but more resembles the National Security, Dept of State and the Great Seal of the United States (Presidential) seal. The colors is not the official blue or red (or our other hues) used by DHS. The only thing that immediately suggest reference is the font and use in caps of HOMELAND.

We then contacted the Department of State, as they are the Custodian of the Great Seal, who explained that potential misuse is under the jurisdiction of the DoJ:

Public Law 91-651, which can be found at Title 18 of the U.S. Code, sets out criteria which governs use of the Great Seal. This is a criminal statute with penal provisions, prohibiting certain uses of the Great Seal that would convey or reasonably be calculated to convey a false impression of sponsorship or approval by the Government of the United States or any department, agency, or instrumentality thereof.

Although the Secretary of State is custodian of the Seal, the Department of State has no authority to grant or withhold permission for use of reproductions, facsimiles, or likenesses of the Seal, or any part thereof. It depends on the circumstances in each case whether the particular use of the Seal would be improper and, as such, it is a function of the Department of Justice to determine whether any particular use violates the Statute.

The DoJ declined to comment though a source with knowledge of the DoJ's approach on such matters told IPVM:

The determination of whether any commercial logo unfairly trades on the goodwill or rights of another entity (whether governmental or commercial) is generally governed by 15 U.S.C. § 1125. That section requires, in part, a determination of whether the similar logo is likely to cause confusion, mistake, or to deceptively convey an affiliation, connection, or association between the logo's owner and another entity, or whether the logo is likely to deceive the public as to the origin, sponsorship, or approval of the logo owner's goods, services, or commercial activities by another person or entity.

While the Department of Justice generally regulates / enforces this, we do not have any information about how they would or how often they do anything about such use by corporations.

Highly Atypical For Companies

IPVM could find few, if any, other examples of companies using / adapting / distorting US government seals in advertising. Parody examples, like the "Department of Homeland Stupidity" do exist but those are non-commercial and protected under the First Ammendment.

Confusion For Customers

The concern is how such a logo, based on US government seals, could confuse customers and give the very rare businesses that does so an advantage in conveying trust, especially when selling security and surveillance products. This is magnified by Homeland Surveillance's petitioning for and selling of products from a company that is NDAA banned and sanctioned for human rights abuses.

Legality Unclear

IPVM does not know whether this is legal or not. We do believe that it exists in a legal gray area and, minimally, raises ethical concerns.

Poll / Vote

1 report cite this report:

ASTORS "Homeland Security" Awards Program Investigated on Dec 21, 2022
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Comments (76)

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It's a bit nerdy but always look at the license plates. Homeland Surveillance's vehicles clearly have standard NYS Empire Gold plates and not US Government or NYS police plates.

New York is filled with impersonators and people looking to take advantage of others, only takes a simple Google search not to get duped.

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That's definitely a good tip to always double check. I wanted to also point out that the law covers companies using seals to convey a "false impression of sponsorship or approval" from the US government, not just impersonation, which is an even bigger ethical/legal issue itself.

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IPVM could find few, if any, other examples of companies using / adapting / distorting US government seals in advertising.

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This image is from Aaron Moss's website/blog Copyright Lately article called "Is Trump Office's Use of the Great Seal Legal?" in which he outlines the case for why former president Trump's use of this seal is not illegal. Mr. Moss is the patent/trademark attorney that IPVM directly reached out to for expert comment on Homeland Surveillance's situation.

IPVM could find few, if any, other examples of companies using / adapting / distorting US government seals in advertising.

This still stands- former President Trump's use of a seal that uses elements from the Great Seal and Presidential Seal is not for advertising/a business. To my knowledge, Trump is not using his seal for his real estate businesses. His office website states:

Through civic engagement and public activism, the Office of Donald J. Trump will strive to inform, educate, and inspire Americans from all walks of life as we seek to build a truly great American Future.

Here's what Mr. Moss writes about Trump's use of that seal specifically:

Contrary to popular opinion, the law doesn’t make the mere use of the presidential seal illegal. If this were the case, all of the sellers of tacky merchandise on Amazon and D.C.-area gift shops would be going to jail.

Instead, in order to violate the law, the seal has to be used “in a manner reasonably calculated to convey a false impression of sponsorship or approval by the government of the United States or by any department, agency, or instrumentality thereof.”

So long as Trump’s “Office of the Former President” continues to recognize that he’s the former president and doesn’t falsely suggest that he’s the current president, its use of the seal shouldn’t run afoul of the law.

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This still stands- former President Trump's use of a seal that uses elements from the Great Seal and Presidential Seal is not for advertising/a business.

I agree with the initial assessment of Mr. Moss:

So long as Trump’s “Office of the Former President” continues to recognize that he’s the former president and doesn’t falsely suggest that he’s the current president, its use of the seal shouldn’t run afoul of the law.

Which he continues to this day to do:

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and Save America is very much a business, taking in money paying expenses etc.

To my knowledge, Trump is not using his seal for his real estate businesses.

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from a complaint filed in July.

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To my knowledge, Trump is not using his seal for his real estate businesses.

To be clear, I meant for this comment to mean that Trump isn't using the seal as a logo as the primary logo for any of his businesses. That's the key issue here in the report, that Homeland Surveillance is using something with close resemblance to the government seal as its own business logo.

This is still Trump's Bedminster Golf Club logo (i.e. no resemblance to US government seals):

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I'm aware CREW filed that complaint to the DOJ this summer over the appearance of Presidential Seal tee markers at Bedminster. I'm not a legal expert so I cannot comment on whether DOJ would deem this a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 713(a). I couldn't find any more recent movement on the case.

Professor Carter, who we cited in the report, has some thoughts on Trump's Presidential Seal tee markers. Apparently, this was already an issue back in 2018 when Carter wrote his opinion article for the Chicago Tribune:

This leads us back to those tacky golf tee markers. It's not clear why the placement of the seal on the course implies any endorsement. (Amazon, after all, sells golf balls embossed with the seal.) But even if we conclude that some golfers playing at a Trump course might imagine that the president endorses the facility, I'm afraid we crossed that bridge when the horse left the barn to search for spilled milk: The name at the entrance to the golf course is already kind of a hint.

My response isn't meant to comment on whether Trump's use of the Presidential Seal is legal/not legal- that's up to the DOJ to decide. But I do believe his use of the seal (which certainly could be problematic) is different from Homeland Surveillance's case here.

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But I do believe his use of the seal (which certainly could be problematic) is different from Homeland Surveillance's case here.

No doubt it is different. Due to the stated lack of examples however, I thought it was worth bringing up.

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This takes balls…

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In order to violate the law, the seal has to be used “in a manner reasonably calculated to convey a false impression of sponsorship or approval by the government of the United States or by any department, agency, or instrumentality thereof.”

[USC02] 18 USC 713: Use of likenesses of the great seal of the United States, the seals of the President and Vice President, the seal of the United States Senate, the seal of the United States House of Representatives, and the seal of the United States Congress

By the way.... did you forget someone?

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How about this one?

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Innovative and creative use of logo development. Others are jelli they didn't think of it or have the brass to attempt it. Ever tried parking a service truck in NYC, Chicago, Atlanta, Dallas, LA? Their service trucks, I'm guessing, may give them a bit of an edge when looking for those all important parking locations too. This is not blog-worthy and anyone confused by their logo probably also gets confused as to which fast food restaurant they think they're pulling into at times, as well, when they bring their noses up from their phones for a second and a breath of air. Nice job Homeland Surveillance. Love the logo and artwork. I hope ipvm isnt attacking potentially Jewish owned companies now.

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Pleaseeee ... why would you suggest it is a Jewish owned company, and how would that affect any of the issues brought up in the article. Great way to divert attention from the real issue.

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"why would you suggest it is a Jewish owned company"

Oh I don't know, probably because it is.

And by the "real issue" you mean ipvm's unhealthy fixation with all things Hikvision, even small business partners(of which there were many), not silly logos.

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This has nothing to do with Hikvision.

It’s funny that you complain about the a fixation when you brought it up yourself.

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"It’s funny that you complain about the a fixation when you brought it up yourself."

You know, it is funny.

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“I hope ipvm isnt attacking potentially Jewish owned companies now.”

I enjoy sarcasm as much as the next guy but UI#3 is pushing it. Between this and his comments about Isabella below… not cool.

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"I enjoy sarcasm as much as the next guy but UI#3 is pushing it. Between this and his comments about Isabella below… not cool."

But none the less; honest.

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Beside looking cool, the only other purpose to use a design that is similar to government agencies is to create a perception that they are not a private entity, and/or at least affiliated with some form of government agency.

One way to determine if there is a possible intention mislead or misrepresent beyond the company name and logo, would be to interview some customers. Ask them if they believed their services are provided by, authorized by, or associated with Homeland security or other government agencies. Ask if the sales or service personnel imply, allow or encourage continuation of that perception? Checking Website and marketing materials may help to indicate if they imply or mislead the customer into believing they are dealing with a government agency. Most important would be to check actual contracts agreements. Is there a clear disclaimer on the front of the contract clarifying they are not associated with, part of, approved by Homeland Security or any government agency other than for licenses required by State, County, City, or Authority having jurisdiction.

To avoid accidental misunderstandings, a clear disclaimer statement on all marketing materials would be a possible suggestion, if indeed there is no interest in confusing or misleading potential customers.

Although a clever marketing approach, there are many possibile logo designs that represent their type of business that would not cause anyone to mistake them for one of the most visible and important government agencies in the country, especially in New York City.

Any company using a Name and/orLogo similar to a government law/code enforcement, or law enforcement agency should be cautious. Doing so may potentially open them to local legal or civil liability. Especially if a customer makes a purchase decision based on believing they are doing business with with a government agency or affiliated entity. Especially if there was a failure of the system to provide the services expected, or if they would have otherwise chosen another company to do the work.

When differentiation between government agencies and private industry is confusing it can make it easier for bad criminals to perpetuate fraud. By using designs and names having similarity to official agency Logos on vehicles, uniforms, and ID, bad actors might gain entry to a secured location they otherwise would not have access.

This one reason most State licensing agencies have specific guidelines in their application and licensing processes forbidding business entities from using names Logos, or any other design that could confuse or mislead consumers into thinking they are law enforcement agencies. This is especially true in the Security and emergency response industries.

Everyone in business wants the marketing path of least resistance.

Our industry provides essential security and life safety services. Customers need to have confidence, comfort, and a clear understanding of whom they are doing businesss with, and what services are and are not provided. As an industry we should all want to assure there is never misrepresentation, confusion, or deliberate misleading of customers about who is providing the services they are receiving.

In the last couple of years it has become clear that within our industry, there are predatory and unethical vendors and providers deliberately misleading the public and abusing that trust.

Hopefully with more industry visibility through the media, and the industry working together with regulatory agencies, this can be reduced if not totally eliminated.

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"Beside looking cool, the only other purpose to use a design that is similar to government agencies is to create a perception that they are not a private entity, and/or at least affiliated with some form of government agency"

Who falls for that tactic? You?

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regardless of the legalities of creating and using such a logo, you can't, with a straight face, argue that Mr. Golds logo is not clearly attempting to mimic the DHS logo - on purpose.

what benefits this might bring his company may be in question, but even if it is completely legal to create such a similar logo to DHS's logo, the cheese factor is high, imo.

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"regardless of the legalities of creating and using such a logo, you can't, with a straight face, argue that Mr. Golds logo is not clearly attempting to mimic the DHS logo - on purpose."

Except that even the feds, themselves don't seem to care or see enough of a likeness to waste their time with.

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Except that even the feds, themselves don't seem to care or see enough of a likeness to waste their time with.

I'm arguing cheese, not legalities.

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"I'm arguing cheese, not legalities."

I'm just arguing. And I can do it with a straight face too.

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Except that even the feds, themselves don't seem to care or see enough of a likeness to waste their time with.

Since things take so long with the feds and they don't publicly comment about ongoing investigations, it is hard to know if they "dont' care", "don't see enough of a likeness" or are working on a case about this.

We would prefer to get some definitive prompt response (regardless of what the decision is) but this is not how it works especially with such an atypical case.

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"Since things take so long with the feds and they don't publicly comment about ongoing investigations, it is hard to know if they "dont' care", "don't see enough of a likeness" or are working on a case about this."

Except that the company has been around since 2011. That's enough time. Even for the feds. More likely, IPVM is just being critical of another hik partner and the blog is using the logo as a reason to browbeat them

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Except that the company has been around since 2011

It's a small company, with a relatively low profile, even with this niche industry. We were not even aware of them until their FCC submission. And the feds generally don't consider such small entites unless someone asks / raises the concern.

Maybe it's legally fine, maybe it's not, but we have no confirmation from the feds that is. And we would welcome that and happily update our reporting if or when that happens.

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"Maybe it's legally fine, maybe it's not, but we have no confirmation from the feds that is. And we would welcome that and happily update our reporting if or when that happens."

Hopefully ipvm attention does not damage or destroy a small business. Hopefully the foolish exposure helps to elevate their business. And it's not "maybe it's legally fine" it IS legally fine unless it is determined not to be. But once again, the logo is not the real reason of the blog. I would have expected a piece like this from John, but not from you, Isabella; shame on you. How disappointing.

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I would have expected a piece like this from John, but not from you, Isabella; shame on you. How disappointing.

you literally added that last part almost 30 minutes after your original post.

why?

did you feel your original post was not quite sanctimonious enough that you had to add the 'shame on Isabella' sentence at the end to elevate yourself one step higher on the moral horse?

get over yourself dude....

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"

you literally added that last part almost 30 minutes after your original post.

why?

did you feel your original post was not quite sanctimonious enough that you had to add the 'shame on Isabella' sentence at the end to elevate yourself one step higher on the moral horse?"

That was when it occurred to me that the blog piece was by Isabella and not John. Although John could have wrote it and gave it to her.

Dude.

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That was when it occurred to me that the blog piece was by Isabella and not John. Although John could have wrote it and gave it to her.

Is this a reasonable approximation of your relative level of dissatisfaction on your different byline scenarios?

1. John wrote it - 5 units disappointment

2. Isabella wrote it - 8 units disappointment

3. John wrote under Isabella’s byline - 12 units disappointment

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And it's not "maybe it's legally fine" it IS legally fine unless it is determined not to be.

So committing murder is “legally fine” until the murderer is convicted?

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"So committing murder is “legally fine” until the murderer is convicted?"

In this country it is... innocent until proven guilty if memory serves...

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Citizen: Hello, police? I’d like to report a murder.

Police: Go ahead…

Citizen: On second thought never mind, it was legally fine.

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"

Citizen: Hello, police? I’d like to report a murder.

Police: Go ahead…

Citizen: On second thought never mind, it was legally fine."

You're digging a hole here; you are simply wrong. Your citizen can report the murder. The eventual accused murderer is still innocent until proven guilty...

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The eventual accused murderer is still innocent until proven guilty...

In actuality, he’s not innocent the moment he commits the crime - it’s just that we don’t know that until later.

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"In actuality, he’s not innocent the moment he commits the crime - it’s just that we don’t know that until later.'

Still digging that hole. Sorry you're still wrong; in the eyes of our legal system, he's still innocent until proven guilty. I'll give you a pass as you clearly aren't from our country or just ignorant.

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Sorry you're still wrong…

Ok, since you are so insistent, let’s say you were right when you criticized John’s “maybe” by saying:

And it's not "maybe it's legally fine" it IS legally fine unless it is determined not to be…

So no one can say “maybe it’s legally fine and maybe it’s not.” Because it IS legally fine until their convicted. Don’t even say it!

Do you see how idiotic that position is?

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"Do you see how idiotic that position is?"

Ok, let me lay it out for you again. I'm guessing you are just a bit slow at getting it....

You are on the losing end of the debate as to whether or not it is or may be legal at this very moment in time. At this very moment in time, there is no maybe, as the company or principle(s) have not been successfully prosecuted or even indicted. It is simply legal and they are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. Sit back, and accept the reality.

So, yes you are wrong no matter how idiotic you think the position is today. There's no 'maybe' today.

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You are on the losing end of the debate as to whether or not it is or may be legal at this very moment in time.

Yo, that’s not the debate.

cmon be a man and own up to your words!

You said:

And it's not "maybe it's legally fine" it IS legally fine unless it is determined not to be…

THIS is your statement - now defend it or quit.

Was John wrong to say “maybe it’s legally fine”?

Yes/No/Quit

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"

THIS is your statement - now defend it or quit.

Was John wrong to say “maybe it’s legally fine”?

Yes/No/Quit"

I've defended my statement. Some just refuse to accept the reality.

Yes, John was wrong, and fishing.

It is fine, legally. Do you see a successful prosecution? I don't. So it's legal. The end.

Here, I'll throw you a bone; it may be illegal once, and only after they have been indicted, but not yet found guilty. How's that? John was still wrong.

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John was still wrong.

But why?

Why is it wrong to consider whether something may be illegal or not just because no one is convicted indicted of it?

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"But why?

Why is it wrong to consider whether something may be illegal or not just because no one is convicted of it?"

Did you really just state this? If you aren't convicted, you did nothing wrong, criminally, under our system of law. Not only have they not been convicted, they haven't even been charged.

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It is fine, legally. Do you see a successful prosecution? I don't. So it's legal. The end.

#2, #3, I think you are at an impasse. #3 is welcome to define legal = not prosecuted.

I concur with the legal expert cited in the report:

It could be risky, especially for a commercial company providing security or defense services, to use a logo resembling an official governmental seal.

To that end, I would neither do nor recommend security companies to use logos based on US government seals. And that's because, unlike #3, I, like the legal expert, view legal risks to exist even in the absence of an indictment or prosecution, as such actions could happen in the future.

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Do you see a successful prosecution? I don't. So it's legal. The end.

successful prosecution has nothing to do with legality other than to convict some person of a crime. and what makes it a crime (i.e. not legal)? the statute that specifically states that the act is a crime.

whether or not someone is prosecuted or not, successfully or not, has no bearing on whether or not an act is legal. statutes define what is legal and what is not.

so when John said:

"Maybe it's legally fine, maybe it's not"

what he was actually saying was maybe the mimicking of a govt seal in their logo was not a violation of any law, or maybe it was.

you're arguing guilt or innocence and misconstruing what the word legal means, imo.

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"successful prosecution has nothing to do with legality other than to convict some person of a crime. and what makes it a crime (i.e. not legal)? the statute that specifically states that the act is a crime"

It has everything to do with legality; if you're prosecuted, then le thinks you may have broken a law but if they are not successful in prosecution, then you didn't break the law. Here, there hasn't even been a charge so currently, there has definitely been no law broken.

"so when John said:

"Maybe it's legally fine, maybe it's not"

what he was actually saying was maybe the mimicking of a govt seal in their logo was not a violation of any law, or maybe it was."

You can only say "maybe" when there has at least been a charge issued.

Where's the charge, after 11 years in business? There is none. So there is no reasonable expectation of "maybe".

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You can only say "maybe" when there has at least been a charge issued.

Oh, is that the rule? In that case:

Can you say “maybe” he will be charged?

And if charged “maybe” he will be guilty?

I mean nobody ever says that, right?

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3 odd things about this company:

1. They say Investigations and Installations:

but I see no evidence on their website of such services. It certainly adds a little LE panache on the logo, though.

2. Despite being an ardent Hik customer whose “life, my employees lives” will be “severely impacted” by a Hik ban, they don’t even list them as a vendor partner:

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3. On their website, they are displaying a map with drop pins/street addresses of hundreds of their customers. Is this a good idea?

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Maybe a nice guide for a fired, disgruntled employee who knows the passwords?

In any event, does it make the sites more secure?

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Here is their map embedded:

Example of a specific site:

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If they are using Hikvision, I bet a lot of us know their passwords

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From their fcc submission:

Security: All camera systems are secured by a closed network, in order to get inside the network and intruder would need 1) The IP Address 2) The port Number 3) The user ID and 4) The password

1) Shodan

2) 80 8000 443 554

3) admin

4) 12345

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This is actually very clever!

The starting frame of the gif is blank (transparent), then the central elements of the seal quickly zoom into view,

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then the rest of the logo is drawn. It’s at least 3 seconds before the first clue that it’s not a government logo appears, the word “Surveillance”.

So right off the bat you’re thinking “gov, gov, gov, HOMELAND S” and then you think SECURITY.

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"This is actually very clever!"

And even legal.

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and cheesy

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The fact the owner of this company had to give 9 reasons why it doesn't look the same, is an admission that it does, kinda look the same.

Why would you ever come up with this logo if your sole intention was not to deceive the public?

As for another commenter that stated they probably get a free pass parking in NYC, doesn't that literally mean they are doing it for benefits, which is what makes it illegal?

Great marketing if you can get away with it, but don't be surprised if they come knocking.

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"Great marketing if you can get away with it, but don't be surprised if they come knocking. "

And they may very well come knocking and the company will get due process, but until then, and successfully prosecuted, they aren't breaking the law. They've been around for over 10 years operating in a city where there is more then enough exposure that if it were thought to be illegal, they would have been approached by now.

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And they may very well come knocking…

How dare you say that?

Because if they come knocking, then “maybe” they might find they’ve been breaking the law.

And that would be against your rule.

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"How dare you say that?

Because if they come knocking, then “maybe” they might find they’ve been breaking the law."

Show us they broke the law, otherwise they are presenting and conducting themselves legally. You can't. Because they're not.

John, have you made enough clickbait money on this rediculous blog topic yet?

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This is a "Karen" article. Some dude in NY is working his rear off to make a legit living and has a creative logo. Y'all did not think of it 1st so go f'n tattle on the guy.

"and Installation" <<<< That word implies WORK, something you wont find at any Department of the US Gov.

The purpose of the logo is just to make you look. Y'all hauled off and wrote an entire world wide news article for him instead. Suckers.

Cher "any publicity is good publicity"

I am sorry to see I am in the minority. There must be VERY few BUSINESS OWNERS as members of IPVM voting.

Go back to writing articles on why it is SOOO much cheaper to make a 2.8 mm lens vs a 4mm lens. So write about things we need to know that will help our business, not tattle tale articles.

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has a creative logo. Y'all did not think of it 1st so go f'n tattle on the guy

If we simply thought it was creative and had no legal risk, we would do it too, and so would many others.

If security and surveillance companies start a trend of distorting government logos, it would be beneficial to those companies but not to the public who would be misled and confused. I am not aiming to convince you, just making my thoughts clear.

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"If we simply thought it was creative and had no legal risk, we would do it too, and so would many others.

If security and surveillance companies start a trend of distorting government logos, it would be beneficial to those companies but not to the public who would be misled and confused. I am not aiming to convince you, just making my thoughts clear."

It "simply" is creative. No one spending money, using them is being misled. I wonder how many civil suits have been brought against them in 11 years indicating the consumer was misled? That may give you more relevant insight as to the validity of the blog topic. There is legal risk in just about every aspect of running a business. The legal risk element here is just silly. There's nothing more to it other than clickbaiting all of us foolish participants into debating this absurd blog topic. Just making my thoughts clear. You make out regardless, to be clear.

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The purpose of the logo is just to make you look. Y'all hauled off and wrote an entire world wide news article for him instead. Suckers.

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Cher "any publicity is good publicity"

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There you go #2, now you're beginning to get it. Nice modification to the perfectly legal, not maybe legal, perfectly fine and legal logo. Let me know when they charge the company, then maybe we will see. Until then, legal.

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"I am sorry to see I am in the minority. There must be VERY few BUSINESS OWNERS as members of IPVM voting.

Go back to writing articles on why it is SOOO much cheaper to make a 2.8 mm lens vs a 4mm lens. So write about things we need to know that will help our business, not tattle tale articles."

I am in agreement with you. Many of these blogs (that are paid for by us) are no different from grocery store tabloids. John says he hates having to sift through all of my comments; just think how I feel having to sift through all of the tabloid blogs looking for good noteworthy information - that I'm paying for on top of it.

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So write about things we need to know that will help our business, not tattle tale articles."

UI#3 acts as if the only subscribers are integrators and installers.

I work for a large company with systems on six continents. I work with hundreds of integrators, hundreds of salesman and most every major manufacture around the globe. I use IPVM as a tool to make informed decisions, not only technical decisions, but also decisions that could affect our company mission and values.

This article is important to subscribers like me. I would not engage in business with any company that could be misrepresenting themselves as being associated or approved by the federal government through the manipulation of government logos.

I also appreciate each and every article surrounding HikVision and Dahua. It's obvious many integrator/technicians are uninformed about world events and could care less about the many issues related to the PRC and human rights. Without IPVM, a significant amount of what we see about this in mainstream media would not get the appropriate attention.

Simply put, if you don't like the article, keep scrolling, There are many others who fund them informative and important.

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"I use IPVM as a tool to make informed decisions, not only technical decisions, but also decisions that could affect our company mission and values."

Great, they can be tools at times. (Took a few edits but I got there....)

"a significant amount of what we see about this in mainstream media would not get the appropriate attention."

Wonder why you think that might be.

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Bad idea anyway you look at it.

The seals belong to us as The People, not to an individual.

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"Bad idea anyway you look at it.

The seals belong to us as The People, not to an individual."

Wow bad idea for 11 successful years in business. I think not. "That" seal belongs to them, not us or you.

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let's take the govt seal part out of the argument, if you will indulge me please.

let's say you owned a business with a logo that you have heavily advertised for many years in an ever-expanding region because you do fantastic work and your yelp reviews are top notch.

now someone else starts up a competing company just outside your current business footprint - and is using a logo that appears very similar to your own company's logo.

would you feel that the other company with the similar-to-yours logo was trying to take some of that value that you've built?

would that similar-to-yours logo be completely legal because they haven't been convicted of anything?

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now someone else starts up a competing company just outside your current business footprint - and is using a logo that appears very similar to your own company's logo.

would you feel that the other company with the similar-to-yours logo was trying to take some of that value that you've built?

would that similar-to-yours logo be completely legal because they haven't been convicted of anything?

Except that the topic relates to a seal of our government, not a competing business. Last I checked, the us government is not competing with a business that is selling services and products and paying taxes to said government. So, in actuality, this business is helping the us government and may even be serving some of their security needs along with tax revenue. Destroy the company, lose the tax revenue, and maybe the owners and employees now need to use other taxpayer monies (unemployment )and negatively impact government resources. That sounds so much better, for a company breaking no laws right? Consider once again, that the company hasn't broken any laws and is contributing to the country. No laws broken. Completely legal. No argument.

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Except that the topic relates to a seal of our government, not a competing business.

ok, so don't indulge me.

you continue to argue a very narrow point that is not a debate to my argument which you refuse to indulge.

as I stated in my very first post in this string, the intent to 'appear to be associated with' seems obvious - and I'm not even saying that this company's logo breaks any laws. cuz I don't know.

until charges are laid against them for the obvious mimicry - and prosecutors can prove whether any particular law has been violated by this companies actions, nobody knows whether their logo mimicry is legal or not.

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"until charges are laid against them for the obvious mimicry - and prosecutors can prove whether any particular law has been violated by this companies actions, nobody knows whether their logo mimicry is legal or not."

So then we are on the same page. They are legal today, yesterday, the day before and some 10 years prior to that. Knew you would get it.

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Knew you would get it.

oh I get that aren't interested in actual debate... you said so yourself 5 days ago in this thread:

I'm just arguing. And I can do it with a straight face too.

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So, in actuality, this business is helping the us government and may even be serving some of their security needs along with tax revenue

If that is true, can we agree that all security businesses should be able to use US government seals as the logos of their businesses? ADT takes the Air Force Seal, Convergint the CIA's, IPVM the FBI's, Hikvision does Homeland Security's?

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"If that is true, can we agree that all security businesses should be able to use US government seals as the logos of their businesses? ADT takes the Air Force Seal, Convergint the CIA's, IPVM the FBI's, Hikvision does Homeland Security's?"

Absolutely. So long as they are made to be legal as defined by our laws, go about your business. The feds don't seem to have an argument against this methodology of advertising, at least over the past 10 years in this instance. Our government works for us not the other way around.

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If we are going to be honest, and after all, that is the point of almost every post on this subject since this string began, then this is what I can deduce from your comments.

1. Perhaps no one has ever mentioned this to you before, but you are defensive and offer aggressive responses when others offer opinions that do not agree with your own. You accused one commenter of being a racist or more specific an anti-semite, and the another for having an unjustified prejudice against HikVision. (which was an opinion based on facts). You responded with attacks and faulty logic, or perhaps rather than faulty logic you simply clarified that you have a different ethical position than some of the others providing their opinions.

2. FACTS are ..

The LOGO in question clearly was designed to look like a government logo for some reason we can only guess about. Since it was pointed out that there were 9 specific differences per Trademark guidelines that allowed it to be used, it still never addressed the idea that it may not be ethical.

We are a security industry and after many years doing this, we have discovered that there is an assumed level of trust provided us automatically when we get a call from a potential client to provide a service. I cannot speak for anyone else, but for us trust is a big deal, so we make it our imparitive to go the extra mile to be sure we understand their needs, and that they understand whom they are doing business, exactly what they will get, what it will do, and what it will not do. In that way we do not deliberately or accidentally mislead our clients.

The LOGO can and could confuse people into thinking they were working with a Government agency. No one except Mr. Gold would know their original intentions. So clear of trademark infringement issues, the question would be whether the particular agency, the state licensing, the insurance carrier for, or an attorney representing a customer of the company who had a loss and thought they were doing business with a government agency. (as you have said, it is unlikely)

HikVision and other manufacturers with major ownership interest by the PRC in their companies have provided hardware that without a doubt had deliberate design features that could provide them or another party to access the root level of networks on which the products with those network chipsets reside. That is a fact that resulted, and is continuing to result in the ban of some of their products as well as Dahua’s, and potential loss of their FCC License. This was not an accidental flaw or exploit in their software, but a feature designed into the product for some a purpose that as yet is not known, but which presents a HUGE security risk for IT departments with this equipment installed on their networks. The manufacturer has not been honest about the risks, and the CEO actually said the responsibility is on the end user to assure their security. For that reason, most IT managers would decide the only way to be safe is to not use the product. Most security professionals would not offer a product that could even remotely place their customers at risk.

Based on comments and opinions you have expressed in this ongoing conversation that if someone committed a murder which IS illegal, however is not caught or convicted, then no crime was committed. Thus it is not surprising that cyber risks confirmed by government bans would not cause you to quit using a product, nor is there a problem for you in using a log that clearly was copied from a government agency, and may confuse potential clients. We understand.

Personally I and many other professionals in this industry clearly appreciate that there is a group that seeks to objectively review products, and inform us of things going on that may impact our customers, system reliability, security, or proper operation. That sort of information allows us to get in front of issues, instead of finding out after damage has been done. Obviously we feel strongly enough of its value, that we are willing to subscribe to the publication.

I also find myself wondering if the positions you are taking wouldn’t possibly be the same as might be shared by Mr. Gold, a family member, or one of the 11 employees, since they are the points about which you are most sensitive.

GOOD JOB IPVM -

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"d) replacing the branches and arrows with a video camera and handcuffs" . Oh that's a video camera. At first I thought it was a PAINT ROLLER!

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