The Army warned an antiwar group of former U.S. Military Academy cadets to stop using the words "West Point" in its name, saying they are trademarked.
A co-founder of West Point Graduates Against the War countered Friday that his organization is simply following the cadets' code.
"At West Point, we were taught that cadets do not lie, cheat or steal — and to oppose those who do," said William Cross, a 1962 West Point graduate. "We are a positive organization. We are not anti-West Point or antimilitary. We are just trying to uphold what we were taught."
The group, open to West Point graduates, spouses and children, claims about 50 members.
West Point spokesman Lt. Col. Kent Cassella said the academy sent the April 12 warning letter because the group failed to go through a licensing process to get permission to use the term "West Point." The group's antiwar stance is irrelevant, he said.
"This is not a political issue. They did not ask for permission. We are doing what any college or university would do to enforce its trademarks," Cassella said.
The Army registered the words "West Point" — as well as "United States Military Academy," "USMA" and "U.S. Army" — as trademarks in 2000 to control their use on educational material and commercial goods.
An attorney hired by Cross and his colleagues said the warning raises questions of First Amendment speech protection and selective enforcement. Joseph Heath said he noted the concerns in a response sent to the Army on Monday; he has not yet received a reply, he said.
"I would hope that the Army would be proud of these men and their willingness to promote democracy and freedom of speech," wrote Heath, a Navy veteran who also opposes the war.
Heath also noted widespread commercial use of the words "West Point."
Cassella said the Army has negotiated agreements with local businesses in the city of West Point allowing them to use the phrase in their names.
Students attending West Point do not have to pay tuition, and their admission follows a written recommendation by a member of Congress.