We are happy to finally report that we have completed a major milestone in our march toward breaking the Church of Scientology’s monopoly over the religion of Scientology!
Legal Research Project Done
Our team of legal experts completed an exhaustive research project we had commissioned for the purpose of determining the best way to proceed with the First Independent Church of Scientology and its objective to practice the religion of Scientology outside the suppressive confines of the church. As our readers know, we took this route once it became clear that internal reform was impossible.
The value of this accomplishment cannot be overstated. It is indeed a “giant” step. For now we have identified the exact barriers and the most efficient ways to overcome them. It was neither easy nor cheap. We spent weeks screening the lawyers, and months educating them on the subject itself. One of the first questions posed to us helps illustrate the difficulty. “If you have all the materials and have studied them, why can’t you just teach Scientology yourself? Why do you need to use the materials themselves?”
“Well, you see, Scientology study doesn’t work that way,” was our initial reply.
While the lawyers were coming up to speed on the nuances of Scientology services, they hit the law books. They studied each and every case, not only those brought by C of S but all those brought by other break-away churches that were sued for trademark and copyright breaches. Such an approach has never been undertaken previously.
The end result is a state-of-the-art legal analysis of laws of trademark and copyrights in the context of the free practice of a religion, specifically the Scientology religion.
Based thereon, we have formulated both short-term and long-term strategy.
The short-term strategy consists of two steps, one of which has been taken and we can now report it. (We will report the second step as soon as we take it – which is imminent.)
Responses Filed with Patent & Trademark Office
As background, applications for trademarks were filed last year, one for the name “First Independent Church of Scientology” and another for the name plus design (i.e., a logo). We reported in April that the United States Patent & Trademark Office denied the applications in a ruling dated March 18, 2016, citing the church’s trademark and a likelihood of confusion in the general public between the two marks. For reference, see Article.
We had six months to challenge the denials but chose to hold off making a decision until after we completed the legal research project.
On September 19th, responses were filed to the United States Patent & Trademark Office arguing that the applications for FICS trademarks should be approved for registration.
The responses consist of a cover letter, argument and exhibits. The argument is only 8-pages long. The exhibits exceed 100 pages.
Necessarily the argument is highly technical. Basically, we contest the USPTO’s opinion that the requested marks create a likelihood of confusion in the general public as well as falsely suggest a connection with the Church of Scientology. We additionally argue that the word Scientology has become generic and therefore not entitled to trademark protection.
Just in. The USPTO ruled on the response. Trademark applications denied. At the same time, the applications were suspended pending resolution of new trademark applications using the word Scientology filed by the church in 2014. See Ruling on Responses.
The church’s applications are listed by number. To see the applications you have to go into the USPTO records. One of the applications, No. 866339615, for example, seeks a trademark in the name, Scientology Media Productions.
It is odd that the applications have not been ruled on by now, and we do not know what is holding up a decision. The suspension bodes well for us. This means our 6-month deadline to appeal the decision is waived, although we are not necessarily going to appeal. We have many options, including just opening the doors and filing a counter claim seeking cancellation of the C of S trademark in the word “Scientology” for being generic in the event the church files an infringement lawsuit or filing an affirmative action to cancel the church’s trademark for being generic.
The more the word Scientology is used as a noun to describe the religion as opposed to referring to the Church of Scientology, the greater our case for having the word declared generic and not qualified for a trademark.
Note: The legal standard for granting a trademark is different than for trademark infringement. So this denial does not mean we cannot use the FICS name or logo. Filing the applications was a strategic decision which can be explained at a later time.
* * * UPDATE * * *
The USPTO Examining Attorney (i.e., person who ruled on the trademark applications) informed one of our attorneys that she was receptive to our “genericness” argument but thought that the USPTO was not the venue for it because she has to presume that the C of S trademarks are valid for the purpose of her review. Her opinion validates our legal conclusions and indicates that we are likely to ultimately succeed.
Step Two – Copyrights
Step two of our short-term strategy regards the use of copyrighted LRH materials by FICS. We invested a lot of time and money into determining the best way to proceed in this regard, and feel we have identified the exact correct way.
We have always known the way not to do it. Contrary to the false ideas of many in the independent field, flagrant use of copyrighted and trademarked materials is not viable. Sure, some people are doing it and getting away with it. But they are vulnerable to legal actions and are therefore not safe and secure. No effort of any magnitude, especially an organization of any size or effectiveness, can afford to act so naively or cavalierly.
The Bridge to Total Freedom
The Technical Standards Committee (TSC) has agreed upon a bridge based on LRH references. It is currently being designed for display and publication. Once the artistic layout is completed we will publicize it on this blog and invite your comments based on written, verifiable source references that the TSC may have overlooked. No opinion, verbal or hidden data lines.
Please Support the Effort
This is a nonprofit venture. No one owns the new church. It will succeed to the degree that there is sufficient support. So please support us if you like what we are doing. 100% of all monetary donations go toward expenses; our time is donated.