The Bible tells us that the meek shall inherit the Earth. One religious group, however, has chosen to vigorously assert its trademark rights while awaiting its inheritance. (The General Council of the Assemblies of God v. The Ranger Supply Store Inc. et al.)
According to its attorneys, the Assemblies is a Pentecostal Christian church which does “good work for children through their Royal Rangers ministries in the United States and internationally.” The Assemblies maintains an on-line store where it sells certain “Royal Ranger” themed goods. Ranger Supply, which apparently feared neither God nor the judges of the Federal District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, also maintained a website through which it sold what were later described as “misshapen emblem patches, misbranded t-shirts and other items” that used the Assemblies of God logo and registered trademarks, all “without permission” (lawyerspeak for “without payment of royalties”).
Adding insult to economic injury, Ranger Supply also registered 32 internet domain names, which, in the words of the Court’s later decision “usurp the names of Assemblies of God ministries and direct customers to the online retailer.”
The Assemblies, seeking to convert the heathen, wrote a cease and desist letter to Ranger Supply, which responded by simply blocking IP addresses belonging to the church from accessing its website. When God did not smite the vile purveyors of these false images, the Assemblies hastened to the courts where it filed suit.
The Assemblies gained a resounding victory in court, possibly because God was on their side, but more immediately because Ranger Supply chose to ignore the lawsuit and the Court entered a judgment by default. The Assemblies was awarded $750k in statutory damages for each of six instances of using “counterfeit marks,” $50k for each of the domain names that Ranger Supply had registered, and $30,560 in “reasonable attorney’s fees and costs.” That totals $6,130,560, plus an additional $11,154.76 for a totally mystifying “outstanding balance due plus late charge…for the price of goods.”
If it truly is more likely for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven, this victory may prove a mixed blessing for the folks at the Assemblies in terms of passing the pearly gates. On the other hand, it remains to be seen whether Ranger Supply actually has $6.1M or whether the Assemblies is able to collect any part of the judgment.
On the plus side, the Court also ordered the destruction of all “counterfeit goods,” so the next time you encounter someone decked out in Royal Ranger regalia, you may safely assume they’re the real God-fearing deal.
So apparently its evil to protect your trademarks?
The owners of the ranger supply store were engaged in shady business practices & trademark violations. yet you take the church to task??? Shame on you.