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4000 - Advisory Opinions

Sign Intended as Supplement to Official Savings Association Sign May Not Be Displayed Because Too Similar


October 23, 1992

Valerie J. Best, Counsel

Thank you for your recent letter concerning the savings association sign. You enclosed with your letter a photograph of the 21-inch handcrafted sign designed by your company. You asked if it would be permissible for a savings association to display the sign, not as the official savings association sign, but as a marketing display to reinforce the message of the savings association sign.

The sign you submitted shows the American Eagle surrounded by a ring of stars. Two phrases are displayed on the sign outside of the ring of stars. The phrase "Deposits Federally Insured" appears at the top; the phrase "United States Government" appears at the bottom. Both phrases curve along the perimeter of the sign.

Please be advised that we would object to the use of this sign by a savings association or bank. The content of the savings association sign is prescribed by statute. 12 U.S.C. 1828(a). Consistent with this statutory mandate, the design of the savings association sign is specified by regulation. 12 C.F.R. 328.1(b). Savings associations are not authorized to change the design of the savings association sign. You may be interested to know that a number of printers and savings associations asked for permission, when the official savings association sign was first implemented in 1989, to change the design. We have consistently taken the position that the design may not be altered. The fact that you do not intend for this sign to be used as the savings association sign, but rather as a supplement, does not alter our response. The sign designed by your company is so similar to the savings association sign that it will inevitably be confused with that sign.

For your information, you may obtain camera-ready art of the savings association sign and the bank (FDIC) sign free of charge from the FDIC by writing to: FDIC, 500 17th Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20429.

I have enclosed for your review a letter that discusses, in detail, advertisement of FDIC insurance membership by savings associations. I have also enclosed the original photo you sent to us. I trust this has been responsive to your inquiry.

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