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.
To review the responses, click the following links: (1) Response re: FICS Name and (2) Response re: FICS Logo.
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.
Great news! Well done, Merrell and your colleagues.
Apparently, I’m as confused as the lawyers you consulted.
“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?”
I understand this part– you must have the original materials to refer to when training students, etc. This is part of the culture of Scientology– you don’t explain Source, you refer students directly to it.
I’m just not sure how this relates to FICS. Are you trying to make the case that you need to be able to copy these materials to make the usage of them in training possible? Please explain.
Yes. People sign up for a course and need materials.
Maybe I’m the dense one:
“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.”
If we are to train and audit in the interim time period here, how shall we do so without direct reference to the Source material? (As you say, “flagrant use of copyrighted and trademarked materials”.) Am I missing something?
Yes, training is being done in the field. Carry on. Those doing so are subject to copyright infringement actions and many independents have been given cease and desist letters. The Church can engage in selective enforcement and are not likely to go after every Tom, Dick & Harry, nor does it make sense. An analogy would be the copying of online music. The music industry did not and cannot go after everyone, but it did selective go after some and, for sure, went after the organized ones, e.g., Napster. What we are trying to do is create a Central Org. Standard Tech can only be maintained and have longevity through a Central Org. Hope this helps.
You see, there is a thing called Scientology. It has axioms. It has principles. It has the goal of empowering a thetan to overcome his own problems. This standard Scientology we don’t change every day. The uninformed, not knowing that a standard exists see in each new release a new subject. So they say, “Why don’t I experiment on my pcs?” And they experiment with the standard background, not with a further reach of old, tried, principles.
Without a guiding central organization Scientology would fall into an anarchy of opinions in a week for there are too many who can go through the motions of auditing who do not know their basics. They think a new thing, Scientology, is an experimental thing. It is not. The basics are inflexible and have been for years.” LRH (Ability 76, ca. early June, 1958 – “Offbeat” Processing)
Always extremely glad to hear of any forward progress!
I personally want to somehow be able to finish my training as an auditor even though there is no independent training facility in my country or within 400 miles of me and apply Scientology, to use Scientology in the field that I am already trained in without fear or hassle for myself or others.
A further donation comes with this post.
Donation received. Thank you. Greatly appreciated! We will do what we can at our end to help you realize your training ambition.
Been out of the loop for a while. So it’s nice to catch up and find progress has been made on securing an Independent venue from what I call the Government approved and IRS certified Squirrel Group.
Well done for doing such a great job!
Very well done, guys!!!! Major milestone for us and I commend this very vast and in depth of amount of work you’ve done, it boggles the mind and commands my greatest of respect.
I only have one suggestion to make, and I thought about it a lot over the years: why not make a brand-new logo symbol with eight points on it instead of associating ourselves falsely with undertones of a Christian church? I feel LRH designed it that way in a heavily moralized Christian society of the 1950s and called it a church the same way, to hide behind the apparency of Christianity. I feel that not only have we come a long way since then and now live in a world where people are a lot more open to new beliefs and practices, but it would also keep our integrity whole. I read many websites and blogs of exes and Indies and have come across someone’s gripe that Scientology hides behind the façade of the cross when LRH hated Christianity and says so in many ways, many times. That sounded like a true blue green person and I was wondering how they would even know such advanced data. So it must be well circulated somehow or other.
Anyway, my idea was to maybe take two squares and interpose them so that there were eight points in sort of a circular formation – kind of like the Jewish Star of David but instead of two triangles two squares! Or, instead of a cross symbol with four smaller points, why not extend them all equally? There could be many different formations, even some sort of bull’s-eye symbol where each ring could be some of star formation, for example.
Then, also, since the word “church” is almost 100% synonymous with meaning Christianity, I think our establishment should be called anything but – a center, foundation, even a temple.
Just MHO, although maybe not so humble :/
Okay, suggestions made. Maybe down the road someone at FICofS will revisit these subjects.
With ample resources, we may very well have conducted broad public surveys and done things differently.
So glad to see this major mile stone reached wherein the groundwork has been laid for true church buildings to be started without suppression! Since our debut on the Internet, it has really looked ludicrous to me that so many have thought that one could just “train themselves”, then hire an auditor! The very woof-and-warp of Scientology’s success depends on co-auditing. How is one going to excel up the levels and fine-tune his craft without any PCs to practice on? Also an OT cannot be an OT on an island alone. We also need buildings to promote to the public and expand, because as we all know: something either expands or contracts, therefore our lifeblood depends upon it. I think if we started church buildings it will also put a central org in every city area where people far and wide can connect, and have certainty that they will find others and then have a community, which I think is also very important to our lifestyles since we don’t just “fit in” neatly in any other area! Because there are process people out there looking for other Indies and cannot find them anywhere.
If you’re anything like me, which I’m quite sure most Indies are – probably gives you a sinking feeling thinking of promoting a very difficult org, etc. I think many of us also have a common thread in core in which you feel something sacrilegious about “putting a price on” religion. Well, we could get by that one of two ways: either promoting it is the science of mind that it really is, with spiritual abilities concurrently coming to the fore as a result, or we could go about it on a whole new ball game. For example, we could hold more more traditional type collection plate sermons if we had some really good speakers who really knew how to speak to the public about their wins and what Scientology does. As LRH says in the early tapes, in order to put on a hit promotional sermon you should have live sessions where PCs curl up and scream in a ball. He says the more outrageous something is the more interest it will attract – pretty much the opposite of the ba-humbuggery of the technical world of Scientology of latter days!
So onward bound, brethren! Let’s take up the ball and run with it in our own areas, to take advantage of the fact we are so blessed to have other members that have been this enterprising to pave the way for us and lighten our load. Those of you with your heart and soul really in this technology and wishing to advance it for future generations, please put a shoulder to shoulder effort for the advancement of others, which advances ourselves.
Thank you to Merrell, Randy and all who have contributed to this fantastic effort. This really gives me peace of mind that the independent field really has a chance to survive and grow and prosper now, and maybe I can sleep at night 😉