The phrase "The Virtual Wall" is a
registered trademark ®
of, Ltd.

(We own both the Trademark and Service Mark, "The Virtual Wall")
News! On November 5, 2007 our trademark "The Virtual Wall" achieved the official status of incontestability under 15 U.S.C. Section 1065. You can view our Notice of Acknowledgement of Incontestability.

"Kinko's"®, "American Airlines"®, "Harley Davidson"®, and "Verizon"® are examples of the thousands of words and phrases Americans recognize as trademarks; names that uniquely identify a product or service.

In a recent speech, Jon Dudas, the Director of the US Patent and Trademark Office stated
"Trademarks help consumers distinguish among products and services and are often an organization's most valuable asset."
From the web site of the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO):
"A trademark includes any word, name, symbol, or device, or any combination, used, or intended to be used, in commerce to identify and distinguish the goods of one manufacturer or seller from goods manufactured or sold by others, and to indicate the source of the goods. In short, a trademark is a brand name. "
US Trademark Law protects the general public from confusion that would exist if two different parties offered similar products or services using the same or similar name. Trademark law recognizes that the first person (an individual, a business, or an organization) to use a distinctive mark for a product or service has the exclusive right to use that mark to identify such a product or service.

We established the phrase "The Virtual Wall" as a trademark on March 23, 1997 when we made our temporary web site public and announced the site on several hundred search engines. Five weeks later, April 28, 1997 we registered the domain name which can be verified by entering "" at Network Solutions. The Virtual Wall was very easy to find from any search engine. Within a few months we had reciprocal links with dozens of veteran-related web sites, including the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund® and the Vietnam Veterans Home Page.

In January, 2001 we applied for Federal registration of the trademark. The whole process took 22 months and included a period when any other party could file an objection. Based on a claim that the phrase "The Virtual Wall" was "merely descriptive" the USPTO rejected our application with a "First Refusal." For example, if the USPTO were to register as a trademark the phrase "ice maker" to one party, no other party would be allowed to use that phrase to describe an ice maker. Therefore the USPTO would not register the phrase "ice maker" as a trademark because it is "merely descriptive."

To appeal that first refusal decision, we submitted to the USPTO additional documentation, the results of a consumer survey, and written legal arguments that the phrase "Virtual Wall" was "suggestive", not descriptive. Among other things, we successfully argued that there would be many ways to describe or name a web site similar to ours without using the phrase "Virtual Wall."

The primary consideration in Trademark law is "Would there be consumer confusion if the mark identified similar products or services offered by different parties." We have received hundreds of email notes that demonstrate that such confusion would exist if two similar web sites used the name "The Virtual Wall."

There are many registered trademarks that are suggestive or even completely descriptive, for example "United Parcel Service®", "American Airlines®", "National Football League®", "Major League Baseball® "Veterans of Foreign Wars®", "Disabled American Veterans®." Hundreds of other trademarks are valid registered trademarks based on the principle that the phrases were established in the public domain and consumers would be confused if more than one party used that phrase to identify the source of a service or product.

You can read more about how the phrase "The Virtual Wall" is not merely descriptive.

You can read why the phrase "Vietnam Veterans Memorial" is NOT a trademark.

We have successfully stopped unauthorized use of our trademark. Two other parties used the phrase "Virtual Wall" to attract visitors to their web sites. We explained the trademark law implications and described that we had email notes showing that relatives and friends of Vietnam War casualties would be confused and sometimes distressed by dual use of a name that had been determined by law to be our exclusive right. Those other users of our trademark quickly agreed to stop using our name.

You may have noticed that for several years we used the "TM" designation on our icons and text in relation to the name "The Virtual Wall." "TM" is used to indicate a non-registered trademark; one that is an established trademark but not yet fully examined and accepted by the US Patent and Trademark Office. When our trademark registration was finally accepted after scrutiny, rejection, appeal, re-examination, and then approval of the USPTO, we could, and did begin using the ® symbol to indicate Federal registration.

We would greatly appreciate assistance from an experienced attorney to help us with future trademark and copyright issues.

Our U.S. trademark registration verifies that:
  • We were the first to use the mark "The Virtual Wall" for a web site honoring Vietnam War casualties.
  • The phrase "The Virtual Wall" is distinctive and is not "merely descriptive."
  • The phrase "The Virtual Wall" and various derivations are our exclusive property.
  • We can use the "®" symbol in connection with our trademark name.
  • We could sue in Federal Courts to stop infringement if we could afford to. Trademark laws are not enforced by any police.
You may view a copy of our trademark registration.
Search for "The Virtual Wall" on the USPTO web site.
Read Frequently Asked Questions on the USPTO web site.
The actual wording of our Registered Service Mark, "The Virtual Wall" for the web site:


The actual wording of our Registered Trademark, "The Virtual Wall" for the CD-ROM:

Goods and Services IC 009. US 021 023 026 036 038. G & S: Electronic database in the nature of a commemorative memorial to persons who died in the Vietnam War in the form of text, hypertext, image, and sound files recorded on computer media. FIRST USE: 20010523. FIRST USE IN COMMERCE: 20010523

The items below are Trademarks (TM), not yet registered, of, Ltd.
These marks are protected by the laws that cover non-registered trademarks.

The Virtual Wall icon
This graphic, with or without text, to identify a web site as in registered Service Mark # 2,638,621
The Virtual Wall icon
This graphic, with or without text, to identify a CD-ROM or other media as in registered Trademark # 2,740,478
Faces of Freedom icon
This graphic and/or the phrase "FACES OF FREEDOM" to identify an index of memorials using images of those memorialized. Our first use was 11/11/2000.
Height of Valor icon   This graphic and/or the phrase "HEIGHT OF VALOR" to identify an index of deceased persons who have earned the highest military honors. Our first use was 04/05/2001.
The phrase "The Virtual Wall" is not "merely descriptive" of our web site:

First, the US Patent and Trademark Office carefully considered this exact issue, then ruled in our favor that the phrase "The Virtual Wall" is NOT descriptive.

Second, media news outlets have used the phrase "virtual wall" for dozens of other meanings:

  • Hundreds of references to electronic surveillance of our border with Mexico as a"virtual wall".
  • Dozens of references to a sports team's defense as a "virtual wall".
  • Dozens of references to individual athletes as a "virtual wall".
  • Dozens of references to a tsunami or flooding as "a virtual wall of water".
  • References to a witness or prisoner as being "a virtual wall of silence."
Third, a device that guides a robotic vacuum cleaner is trademarked as a "virtual wall". That US trademark and ours don't conflict because consumers would not confuse the two very different products or services. In fact, the very different use of the same phrase strenghthens our trademark. Similarly, consumers wouldn't confuse Ford Bubble Gum with Ford Motor Company.
The phrase "Vietnam Veterans Memorial" is NOT a trademark:

Some people have asked us if our use of the phrase "Vietnam Veterans Memorial" infringes on a trademark. It does not. No person or party holds either a registered or non-registered trademark on the phrase "Vietnam Veterans Memorial."

The phrase "Vietnam veterans memorial", by itself, can not be trademarked:
(A decision by the US Patent and Trademark Office)

  • The phrase "Vietnam veterans memorial" is descriptive, not a proper noun.
  • There are hundreds of Vietnam veterans memorials around this country.
  • The first Vietnam veterans memorial in the US was built in New York City in 1968.
  • The National Vietnam Veterans Memorial was built in New Mexico in 1979.
  • The Vietnam veterans memorial was built in Washington, DC in 1982.
  • The Moving Wall Vietnam Veterans Memorial began traveling in 1984.
  • This web site, The Virtual Wall, is a Vietnam veterans memorial.
Contact Us Copyright© 1997-2010, Ltd ®(TM) Last update 08/02/2010