From the ridiculous to the sublime. Last week we wrote about a lawsuit alleging, inter alia, infringement and dilution of the trademark HUSTLER, used in respect of nudie bars (see All You Ever Wanted to Know About HUSTLER - And More). This week we report on a lawsuit alleging infringement and dilution of two servicemarks used in respect of “religious services or works.” (Episcopal Diocese Of Fort Worth v. The Rt. Rev. Jack Leo Iker).
The Diocese is the owner of two federally registered servicemarks, a word mark, “The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth,” and a design mark wherein those words are inscribed on a seal or shield. Allegedly, the Diocese “has been continuously providing, advertising, and marketing” its brand of religion under these marks “since at least June 1983.”
The Right Reverend Jack Leo Iker is a former bishop of the Diocese. Apparently, he is not a believer in racial or sexual equality. Along with some other church members, he was unhappy with the church’s more recent views regarding ordination of African-Americans, women or gays. (The church approved of this – the Right Jack Leo did not.) The church’s election of a female bishop was apparently the last straw.
In 2008 Jack Leo left the Diocese – but not its servicemarks. He and his band of followers continue to use the aforementioned servicemarks. As a result, according to the Diocese, “[m]embers of the public seeking religious services or works of the [Diocese] may attend or support services provided by [Jack Leo] under the mistaken belief that [those] services are being provided by, sponsored by, or affiliated with [the Diocese].” Talk about praying in the wrong pew! Seemingly, the Diocese is also concerned about the “quality and/or content of the religious services and works” offered by the competing church. Specifically, the Diocese doesn’t want to be associated with them.
At any rate, the Diocese is seeking an injunction, damages, costs and attorney’s fees.
Jack Leo is seeking to raise a $1.0 million defense fund. I wonder whether a donation would qualify as a charitable contribution.