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Moseley-Braun Fighting Extension Of Insignia Patent For Confederate Group

May 3, 1993 GMT

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Sen. Carol Moseley-Braun, D-Ill., is asking her colleagues to deny the United Daughters of the Confederacy a patent renewal for an insignia that features the Confederate flag.

Moseley-Braun, the first black woman elected to the Senate, said members of the group have every right to honor their Civil War ancestors and to use the flag in the insignia.

But since the group seeks a congressional imprimatur, she said, ″then those of us whose ancestors fought on a different side of the conflict or were held as human chattel under the flag of the Confederacy have no choice but to honor our ancestors by asking whether such action is appropriate.″

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She expressed her views in a letter to fellow members of the Senate Judiciary Committee. The panel will consider legislation to renew design patents for a variety of organizations.

Sen. Strom Thurmond, R-S.C., a sponsor of the patent bill, praised the Daughters of the Confederacy for its philanthropic work and said there is no reason why Congress should not extend the patent.

The United Daughters of the Confederacy first patented the insignia in 1898. The patent was extended every 14 years, until the last Congress, when the Senate-passed bill was attached to another measure which failed to pass the House.

The insignia includes the first national flag of the Confederacy, which has red and white stripes, with seven stars inside a blue field in the corner. The flag is surrounded by a laurel wreath with the year 1861 and the letters UDC at the bottom.

Tommie LaCavera of Athens, Ga., president of the United Daughters, said her group is being unfairly singled out by Moseley-Braun because of its link to the Confederacy.

″There’s a tendency nowadays to try to pretend that that part of our history never happened,″ she said. ″But is was a very important part of our history.″

The insignia dispute is the latest in a series of recent fights over Confederate symbols. In Georgia, Gov. Zell Miller waged an unsuccessful legislative battle this year to remove the Confederate battle flag from the Georgia state flag. In Alabama, new Gov. Jim Folsom Jr., announced last week that he would not continue his predecessor’s fight against a court order that banned the Confederate flag from the state Capitol.

Ms. LaCavera said she met with aides to Moseley-Braun last month, after learning of the senator’s objections, to explain the organization’s activities and to assure the senator that it does not discriminate.

″They weren’t so much interested in our organization,″ she said. ″They just wanted know why we received special consideration from Congress.″

Moseley-Braun said the group does not need the special legislation. She cited a letter from Michael K. Kirk, acting commissioner of patents and trademarks, that said that even without renewal of the design patent, other state and federal laws accord protections against unauthorized use of such insignia.