Summary of 36 Legal Defense Points to be
used in a Trademark Lawsuit or Appeal
In the mid-1840s, a
Sabbatarian-keeping group separated from the widely known "Adventists," or
"It was from
among the Adventists engaged in this movement in America that there arose a small group in
1844, in Washington, N. H., who began to observe the seventh-day Sabbath, as they found it
enjoined in the fourth commandment of the Decalogue [the Ten Commandments; Exodus
20:3-17]. Thus came the first Seventh-day Adventists, though the name was not formally
adopted until later years."Seventh-day Adventist Bible Students Source
Book, 1962, 934.
"[Seventh-day Adventists] had for some yearssince
1844formed a distinctive and well-defined body of individuals, groups, and local
churches who were developing and holding in common doctrines that distinguished them
clearly from others"Seventh-day Adventist Encyclopedia, article, "SDA
Church," 1326. [This is the 1976 one-volume edition.]
In 1847, this group was
referred to as "Seventh-day Adventists."
"The first to
use the name, Seventh-day Adventist, appears to have been their opponents. One of the
earliest references to the name, Seventh-day Adventist, occurred in the Advent Herald,
the main publication of the non-Sabbatarian Adventists in 1847."P. G.
Damsteegt, Foundations of the Seventh-day Adventist Message and Movement, 254-255.
In 1853, the Seventh-day
Baptists designated this new group as "Seventh-day Advents."
"In 1853 the
Seventh-Day Baptist Central Association designated the Sabbatarian Adventists as the
Seventh-day Advent people. "P. G. Damsteegt, Foundations of the
Seventh-day Adventist Message and Movement, 254-255. [The date, August 11, 1853, is given
in a footnote.]
Quotation of two letters
(dates not given) from the 1850s will be found in the Florida trademark trial transcript
(43-45, Day 1, March 13, 2000).
"I start out to
hold meetings in the vicinity of Jackson [Michigan], being invited. I called on Mr.
Holford who was keeping the seventh day, called Seventh-day Adventists. But I looked upon
the whole body of Millerites as a set of enthusiasts."Brother Cranston,
quoted in Florida trademark court transcript, Day 1 (March 13, 2000), 44.
"My parents were among the first here in the advent faith and
for about 10 years or more kept the seventh-day Sabbath . . I had soon commenced searching
the Bible to learn, if possible, what professed Christians were the nearest Bible
Christians. I found no difficulty in deciding in favor of the Seventh-day Adventists.
Indeed, I am surprised that professed Christians have not long ago seen that the seventh
day was the true Sabbath."Sister P. P. Lewis, writing from Grantville,
Vermont, quoted in Florida trademark court transcript, Day 1 (March 13, 2000), 44-45.
The name, Seventh-day
Adventist, was used by some of the believers prior to 1860.
Two letters (by P. P. Lewis and a Brother Cranston) were submitted as
partial evidence of this, in the Florida trademark trial.
"The name Seventh-day
Adventist was clearly in use prior to its adoption at the Battle Creek Conference
[in 1860], as evidenced by a letter published in the Review and Herald in 1859 (Review
and Herald., August 18, 1859). The Court finds, therefore, that Seventh-day Adventism,
the religion, pre-existed the Seventh-day Adventist Church."Judge
Pfaelzers opinion, Kinship case, 13 (General Conference Corporation of Seventh-day
Adventists vs. Seventh-day Adventist Kinship, International, Inc., CV 87-8113 MRP, decision
dated October 3, 1991, filed October 7, 1991, U.S. District Court, Central District of
In 1858, Ellen G. White, the
recognized prophet and spiritual leader, issued a clear-cut command from God for the
people to call themselves by the name, Seventh-day Adventists
223-224). This was 5 years before the founding of the Seventh-day Adventist
denomination and 123 years before the November 10, 1981, trademarking of the name. Because
they were held together by their common belief in her writings, they began doing this.
"No name which we
can take will be appropriate but that which accords with our profession and expresses our
faith and marks us a peculiar people. The name Seventh-day Adventist is a standing rebuke
to the Protestant world."1 Testimonies, 223 (1858).
"The name Seventh-day Adventist carries the true features of
our faith in front, and will convict the inquiring mind. Like an arrow from the
Lords quiver, it will wound the transgressors of Gods law, and will lead to
repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ."1 Testimonies, 224
Read the entire chapter for
yourself: 1 Testimonies, 223-224.
On September 28-October 1, 1860, the Battle Creek meeting occurred, at
which time the name was adopted for the believers and the independent churches.
purpose was to form a legal organization, to own the publishing house. With only one
dissenting vote, the name, "Seventh-day Adventist," was selected (Review,
October 9-23, 1860; Seventh-day Adventist Encyclopedia, article, "Development of
Organization in SDA Church," 1044).
In 1860, only the Review periodical, the believers, and their
congregationsall of which were independent of any organization,began using the
The immediate results were that the Review used the name and promoted it
heavily. The believers fully accepted it. By the end of 1860 (although the name of the
believers and their independent churches had been determined), no local conference, North
American Division, or General Conference yet existed.
It was not until the next year, 1861, that the publishing house was
transferred to a holding company,
May 13, 1861, under Michigan laws (SDA
Prior to October 1861, every Seventh-day Adventist church in the
world was an independent church; yet the name had been adopted by the believers a full
Not until October 5-6, 1861, did the first Adventist conference come
"In a meeting on
October 5 and 6, 1861, a year after the name Seventh-day Adventist was adopted, the
Michigan churches united to form the Michigan Conference of Seventh-day
Adventists"SDA Encyclopedia, 880; article: "Michigan Conference."
The formation of the Michigan Conference was recommended at the 1860 meeting, but not
carried out until the following year (SDA Encyclopedia, 1045-1046).
This first Seventh-day
Adventist organizational church body, the Michigan conference, began operating in 1862.
"The first regular
session of the Michigan Conference convened at Monterey, Michigan, October 4-6, 1862"SDA
In 1862, seven more local
conference were formed.
This brought the total to eight independent conferences.
"During 1862 other
local conferences were formed: Southern Iowa (March 16), Northern Iowa (May 10), Vermont
(June 15), Illinois and Wisconsin (September 28), Minnesota (October 4), New York (October
25)."SDA Encyclopedia, 1046.
On May 21, 1863, the General
Conference was formed by a meeting attended by only six conferences.
The problem was
that leadership could get the people to adopt the name, but could not get a majority of
the believers to agree to the forming of a central church governing agency. Therefore it
was done by going over the heads of the members (who never gave formal approval to the
plan). The General Conference was formed by as many of the separated conference leaders as
would approve it. The resulting "denomination" was only composed of believers
living in six states (SDA Encyclopedia, 496; 1046-1047).
From 1863, onward, the denomination gradually grew. And, from time
to time, splinter groups broke away from it; all parties of which used the name,
That practice is not unusual; for, in every other religious
faith, the same thing regularly occurswhether it be Lutherans, Methodists, Baptists,
Congregationalists, or Mormons. Each group retains the key phrase identifying their type
of religious faith. Reference to any list of denominations in America attests to this
In 1902 and 1903, Ellen G. White, the single, recognized divinely
inspired prophet of the Seventh-day Adventist people, again spoke a command from God that
the people and their churches must ever retain the name, Seventh-day Adventist
(Letter 110, 1902, and Letter 106, 1903; both reprinted in 2 Selected Messages, 384).
This was 44-45 years after her 1858 statements and 78-79 years before the name was
trademarked as the propertynot of the people or the churches, butof the
General Conference. (The trademark does not belong to the conferences or the believers,
but only to the General Conference. This is scary; for if it ever apostatized, it could
legally take the name with it!)
"We are Seventh-day
Adventists. Are we ashamed of our name? We answer, No, no! We are not. It is the
name the Lord has given us. It points out the truth that is to be the test of the
churches. "Letter 110, 1902; 2 Selected Messages, 384.
"We are Seventh-day Adventists, and of this name we are never
to be ashamed. As a people we must take a firm stand for truth and righteousness. Thus we
shall glorify God. We are to be delivered from dangers, not ensnared and corrupted by
them. That this may be, we must look ever to Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our
faith."Letter 106, 1903; 2 Selected Messages, 384.
The authority, which the
church and the believers are to be subservient to, is the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy
(the writings of Ellen G. White). But what about the Statement of Beliefs and the
Although there were a number of brief, doctrinal lists published down
through the years, it was not until December 29, 1930, that a committee of four was
appointed to prepare the first Statement of Belief. It was printed in the 1931 Yearbook
and in the 1932 Church Manual. Ongoing revisions of that Statement have been
made since then. Never has any church body in the denomination ruled that it is a formally
binding creed; for it is well-known that, to do this, would cause an uprising of the
members (See SDA Encyclopedia, 396-397).
As for the Church Manual, "it was not until 1932, that an
official SDA Church Manual appeared, issued by the General Conference" (SDA
Encyclopedia, 301). It is revised at every General Conference Session, and only
governs the local congregations. It does not govern any higher level executive body, nor
any church entity (publishing houses, hospitals, schools, etc.).
The name, Seventh-day Adventist, is always written in only one way,
for the simple reason that this is the form given us by the God of heaven
prophet. You will never find "Adventists of the Seventh-day," etc.
Just as Seventh-day Adventist is the divinely given name, so SDA is
its logical and proper acronym. It should not be illegal for Gods people to use
the initials of the God-given name, anymore than it should be wrong for them to use the
The denomination only uses the name in the titles of central church
offices and local congregations.
Throughout the history of our people, the name itself
has been used in the titles of local churches and central offices governing the churches
(conference, mission, union, division, and General Conference offices). It has generally
not been used in the titles of evangelistic outreach entities (such as the Voice of
Prophecy, Faith for Today, Amazing Facts, etc.) or in our denominationally owned
hospitals. At the present time, it is only found in two entities in the U.S. and its
territories (Holbrook Seventh-day Adventist Indian School, Holbrook, Arizona; and Guam
Seventh-day Adventist Clinic, Tamuning, Guam; see The Seventh Day Adventist
Non-Identity Factor [WM944] for complete details.)
The name, Seventh-day Adventist, is generic; that is, it stands for a
type of person, his religious beliefs, and his religion.
According to accepted legal
precedents and rulings, a generic term is one that may be used by anyone. A trademark
based on it will not stand in court. A number of court decisions uphold this fact.
"SDA Kinship argues
that Seventh-day Adventist is generic because it refers to religion."Judge
Pfaelzers opinion, Kinship case, 11 (General Conference Corporation of Seventh-day
Adventists vs. Seventh-day Adventist Kinship, International, Inc., CV 87-8113
Judges opinion dated October 3, 1991, filed October 7, 1991, U.S. District Court,
Central District of California).
"A generic trademark is not entitled to [trademark] protection,
even if the trademark has become incontestable."Op. cit., 11; see Park
N Fly, Inc. vs. Dollar Park and Fly, Inc., 469 U.S. 189, 194-195 (1985).
"The function of a trademark is to identify the source of the
product."Op. cit., 11; see also General Conference Corporation. of SDA vs.
SDA Congregational Church, 887 F.2d 228, 231 (9th Cir. 1989), citing J. T. McCarthy,
Trademarks and Unfair Competition, sect. 12:1 (2d ed. 1984).
"A generic mark is one that tells the buyer what the
product is rather than from where, or whom, it came. "Op. cit., 11-12.
"Because it does not identify the origin of a product, it is
not entitled to trademark protection."Op. cit., 12.
"The relevant test is what the primary significance of
the registered trademark is to the relevant public. "Op. cit., 12; see
15 U.S.C., sect. 1064.3.
" Christian Science is a generic term."Op.
cit., 12; see Evans, 520 A.2d at 1352.
"The Court finds that, as used by SDA Kinship, the terms
Seventh-day Adventist and, its acronym, SDA are generic and are
not entitled to trademark protection."Op. cit., 15.
"Conclusion: The terms Seventh-day Adventist and
SDA, as used by SDA Kinship, are generic. This finding disposes of all of the
claims asserted by plaintiff. Therefore, judgment shall be entered in favor of the
defendant."Op. cit., 18.
Since the name not only is
generic, but stands for a faith and set of beliefs, it is not subject to trademark
"Use of the name
Bahai could not be enjoined [forbidden to be used by others] because it
was the name of a religion."Judge Pfaelzers opinion, Kinship case, 12.
See 29 N.Y.S. 2d 509 (1941).
"This Court is persuaded that the term Seventh-day
Adventist has a dual meaning: it refers not only to the Church, but to adherents of
the religion of Seventh-day Adventists."Op. cit., 14.
"In holding that Christian Science was the name of
a religion, and hence, unprotectable, the court in Evans found that the religion
and the mother church were conceptually separate and that the religion pre-existed the
organization."Judge Pfaelzers opinion, Kinship case, 13 (General
Conference Corporation of Seventh-day Adventists vs. Seventh-day Adventist Kinship,
International, Inc., CV 87-8113 MRP, Judges opinion dated October 3, 1991, filed
October 7, 1991, U.S. District Court, Central District of California; also see Evans, 520
A.2d at 1351).
The name stands for a number
of different Seventh-day Adventist denominations and independent churches.
And it has
been this way since the last century. The legal aspect here is to establish that more
denominations than just the General Conference has steadily used the name for decades
prior to 1981, when the trademark was obtained. That fact alone should be enough to
One example of a denomination, predating the General Conference
trademark, would be the Davidian Seventh-day Adventists; they took the name in 1942, and
its splinters groups continue to do so. (See SDA Encyclopedia, 376.)
launched by Victor T. Houteff, member of an SDA church in Los Angeles, California, in
1929, popularly called the Shepherds Rod, after the title of his first
publication. His organization took the name of Davidian Seventh-day Adventist.
"Seventh-day Adventist Encyclopedia, 1976 ed., 376.
"After the attack on Pearl Harbor . . a formal theocratic
organization was created, with Houteff as its leader, and in 1942 the name of the
organization was changed [from Shepherds Rod] to the Davidian Seventh-day
Adventist Association."Encyclopedia of American Religions, 467.
Another would be the
Adventist Reform Movement, commonly known as the Seventh-day Adventist Reform Church. It
was working in the United States by the 1930s.
Adventist Reform Movement never had a large following, and by 1937 it was divided into
some 25 splinter groups in Europe alone. In the United States of America there are a few
little groups."Encyclopedia (1976 ed.), 1333.
A range of dictionaries
define the disputed phrases, Adventist and Seventh-day Adventist, as consistently
referring to a person or persons holding to a specific religious faith and, only
to a religious organization.
A member of any of several Christian denominations that believe Christs second
coming and the end of the world are near at hand."American Heritage
Dictionary of the English language, 1969 ed., 19.
"Seventh-day Adventist: A member of a sect of Adventism
distinguished chiefly for its observance of the Sabbath on Saturday."Op.
"Adventism: The doctrine that the second coming of
Christ and the end of the world are near at hand; the principles and practices of
Seventh-day Adventists."Websters New Collegiate Dictionary, 1975 ed.,
"Adventist: Member of a Christian denomination
believing that the second coming of Christ will soon occur."McMillan
Contemporary Dictionary, 1979 ed., 15.
"Adventists: Christians concerned with the imminent
second coming of Christ."Random House Encyclopedia, 1977 ed., 1884.
"The Court finds it significant that the term
Seventh-day Adventist appears in a standard American language dictionary . .
The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (1969) defines Seventh-day
Adventist as [a] member of a sect of Adventism distinguished chiefly for its
observance of the Sabbath as Sunday. id. at [p.] 1186."Judge
Pfaelzers opinion, Kinship case, 12.
It might be here noted that at
the Kinship hearing, in order to somehow establish that "Seventh-day
Adventist" belonged to the church organization itself, Ronald
representing the General Conference, cited no dictionaries or history booksother
than a statement in a Catholic dictionary (New Catholic Enclyclopedia, 140)!
Other church bodies are not suing one another, yet they keep
theand in some cases the very samedenominational name.
One example is
Church of God (Anderson) and Church of God (Cleveland). That is the actual, full titles of
In an American Bible Society paper, "Partners,"
published recently, is to be found a list of 63 of the most important Protestant
denominations in the world. In this listing we find 8 "Baptist," 5 "Brethren,"
4 "Church of God" (and 1 "Churches of God)," 5
"Evangelical," 5 "Lutheran," 7 "Methodist," 2
"Pentecostal," 5 "Presbyterian Church," 4 "Reformed
Church," and 3 "Congregational" denominations. There are also a
number of Orthodox and Catholic churches.
Denominational and church names are generally lumped under a relatively
few categories. This is because the names denote religious beliefs, a spiritual lineage.
It is universally felt that to remove the name is to abrogate the faith.
For example, there is a "Church of Christ" and a "United
Church of Christ." There is a "Methodist Episcopal Church, African";
a "Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, African"; and a
"Methodist Episcopal Church, Christian." There are also two denominations
which have the very same name"Church of God" (Anderson) and "Church
of God" (Cleveland). None of these are suing one another because of name
Literally hundreds of other close similarities in denominational names
could be cited. Church names are similar for two reasons: (1) Their beliefs are expressed
in their names, and (2) divisions and splinter groups develop which retain the original
name with only slight variation. This is a normal pattern which has continued for hundreds
of years. Church names are not a matter for civil governments to legislate upon.
The General Conference did not give full disclosure when it applied
for this trademark.
In legal language, this would be called "the fraudulent
acquisition of a trademark." The General Conference deceptively obtained a trademark
on the name, "Seventh-day Adventist," on November 10, 1981without telling
the Trademark Office in Washington, D.C., that other church bodies had, for decades, been
using that name in their official titles. One person, who was threatened by
a trademark official in Washington, D.C. and was told that anyone can trademark a name; it
is decided by the courts whether it is valid.
A word or phrase cannot be trademarked, if it has been in public
domain usage by other groups in the same line of activity for years, prior to the
trademark application date.
The trademark application was wrongly applied for on three counts:
(1) Although "Seventh-day Adventist" as a religious faith
preceded "Seventh-day Adventist" as a denominational name, this fact was not
disclosed to the Trademark Office.
(2) The General Conference applied for the trademark in 1981 under
false pretenses, presenting itself as though it were the sole organization using that
name. But that was not true.
(3) We must ever call ourselves, both individually and our churches,
Seventh-day Adventists because Ellen G. White, the prophet of the Lord, commanded us to do
The General Conference trademark on this name is a denial of our
free speech rights.
Here are the requirements which the chief trademark attorney for
the General Conference, Vincent Ramik, stipulates in his letter to those using the name. This
is what believers must agree to, in order that the lawsuit against them will be dropped:
 "Cease all
use of SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTIST and/or SDA.
 "Cease all use of SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTIST and/or SDA in
conjunction with your advertising, your telephone directory, your letterhead and any and
all other business and ministerial activities presently performed directly by you or on
your behalf utilizing either or both aforesaid Churchs trademarks and service marks,
 "Avoid all usage of SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTIST and/or SDA likely to
be confused with these marks as used by the Seventh-day Adventist Church."Vincent
Ramik, attorney representing General Conference of SDA, letter dated March 17, 1998 [full
Those three stipulations, if
accepted, would constitute a violation of our free speech rights! We would no longer be
able to take the name, "Seventh-day Adventist," on our lips! The
notorious Settlement Agreement, which Ramik requires signing, to drop the lawsuit,
stipulates that all books and magazines containing the name must be turned over to the
federal marshal, for delivery to the General Conference for destruction. Yet this is the
name which God gave us through His prophet, by which we were ever to identify ourselves.
According to the content of this demand, we are never again to use our religious name in
sermons, in Sabbath School classes, on the streets, or in our homes. For a church body in
free America to suggest such restrictions is, frankly, astounding.
The General Conference declares that it can forbid any Seventh-day
Adventist from using the name!
It says the name belongs to them and they have a right
to trademark it and forbid others to use it. In their policy books, they even claim the
right to forbid valid church members to use it (163-88NG General Conference Trademark
Policy: New Policy/GCO/88SM/88AC to CBR88YE, Revised ed., dated 4-9-88, p. 2)!
In the United States, where the trademark has been obtained, the
governing legal paper is the U.S. Constitution and its Amendments. The First Amendment
guarantees certain rights.
make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise
thereof . ."U.S. Constitution, First Amendment.
"Why should this organization not have a right to call
themselves Adventists, when it has been admitted that the leadership of the organization
presently permits a wide plurality of beliefs and practices of its own
members?"Statement by Judge Phaelzer, Kinship case, December 16, 1989.
"A prerequisite for application of the free exercise clause
[of the First Amendment] under either decision is that the law requires the claimant to
act in a way that his religion forbids or that it prohibits him from doing something that
his religion requires."Judge Pfaelzers opinion, Kinship case, 18. Cf.
1 Testimonies, 223:1-224:1, requiring that Seventh-day Adventist believers identify
themselves by that name.
"Freedom of thought, which includes freedom of religious
beliefs, is basic to the society of free men . . The First Amendment does not select any
one group or any type of religion for preferred treatment. It puts them all in that
position."United States vs. Ballard, 322 U.S. 78, 86-87 (1944).
"The rights of conscience are, in their nature, of such
peculiar delicacy, and will little bear the gentlest touch of the governmental
hand."Abington School District vs. Schempp, 374 U.S. 203. 231 (1963)
[Justice Brennan concurring, quoting Rep. Daniel Carroll of Maryland during the debate on
the proposed Bill of Rights in the First Congress].
"Much of [that which is] religious is inherently
associational, interposing the religious community or organization between the state and
the individual believer."L. Tribe, American Constitutional Law, 1155 (2d ed.
"The New Testament itself provided early precedent for civil
deference to religious authority on ecclesiastical questions in the account contained in
Acts 18:12-16, describing Gallios refusal, as proconsul of Achaia, to judge a claim
that Paul persuadeth men to worship God contrary to the law. Because it was a
matter of words and names, and of your [religious] law, Gallio told
Pauls accusers, look ye to it; for I will be no judge of such matters.
"L. Tribe, American Constitutional Law, 1155 (2d ed. 1987), 1237 n. 73.
"It is no business of courts to say what is a religious
practice or activity, for one group is not a religion under the protection of the First
Amendment."Fowler vs. Rhode Island, 345 U.S. 67 (1953).
"Civil courts do not inhibit free exercise of religion merely
by opening their doors to disputes involving church property . . but First Amendment
values are plainly jeopardized when church property litigation is made to turn on the
resolution of civil courts of controversies over religious doctrines."Presbyterian
Church, 393 U.S. 449, 451, 450.
"The hazards are ever present of inhibiting the free
development of religious doctrine and of implicating secular interests in matters of
purely ecclesiastical concern."Ibid.
"To reach those questions would require the civil courts to
engage in the forbidden process of interpreting and weighing church doctrine . . Plainly,
the First Amendment forbids civil courts from playing such a role."Ibid.
"When the underlying dispute is properly characterized as
religious, the suit . . becomes a transparent vehicle for invoking governmental assistance
to benefit one side in a religious conflict at the expense of the other."L.
Tribe, American Constitutional Law, 1155 (2d ed. 1987).
"The First Amendments Religion Clauses are meant to
protect churches and their members from civil law interference."Jones vs.
Wolf, 443 U.S. 5.95. 613-14 n. 2 (1979).
"[A civil statutes] unintended adverse impact upon
persons of a particular faith can invalidate it [the statute]."J. H. Ely,
"Legislative and Administrative Motivation in Constitutional Law," 79 Yale Law
Journal, 1205, 1319 (1970).
"Religious liberty includes, as it must, the right to
communicate [ones] experiences to others."United States vs. Ballard,
322 U.S. 78 (1944).
"[The intent of the First Amendment is] to insure that no one
powerful sect or combination of sects could use political or governmental power to punish
dissenters whom they could not convert to their faith."Zorach vs.
343 U.S. 306, 319 (1952).
"[There is not to be] a restriction of the free exercise of
these freedoms which are protected by the First Amendment."Murdoch vs.
Pennsylvania, 319 U.S. 105, 114 (1943).
"[A law] does not acquire constitutional validity because it
classifies the privileges protected by the First Amendment along with wares and
merchandise of hucksters and peddlers, and treats them all alike. Such equality of
treatment does not save the ordinance. Freedom of press, freedom of speech, and freedom of
religion are in a preferred position."Murdoch, 115.
"Spreading ones religious beliefs or preaching the
Gospel through distribution of literature and through personal visitations is an age-old
type of evangelism with as high a claim to constitutional protection as the more orthodox
types [of religious practices]."Murdoch, 110.
"Freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion
are available to all, not merely to those who can pay their own way."Murdoch,
"When the rights of property owners are juxtaposed [compared]
with the right of freedom of speech, the latter occupies the preferred position. Marsh
vs. State of Alabama, 326 U.S. 501, 90 L.Ed. 265, 66 S.Ct. 276 (1946)."Op.
The U.S. Trademark laws do
not apply in this case. The Lanham Act was enacted in 1946, by the U.S. Congress, to
protect commercial products and business operations. A religion is neither.
in a set of religious tenets, and my practice of themis not trademarkableso
that someone else can tell me I can no longer profess the faith I choose. Injurious,
competitive commercial activity must be shown to have occurred.
Here are additional facts about the trademark law:
"[A trademark is
defined as] any word, name, symbol, or device or any combination thereof adopted and
issued by a manufacturer or merchant to identify his goods and distinguish them from those
manufactured or sold by others."15 U.S.C., sect. 1127.
"[Trademark laws were made for business and industry, not
churches:] As one court observed, the law of unfair competition has developed primarily in
commercial settings, and its language is ill-suited for application to religious
institutions."Judge Pfaelzers opinion, Kinship case, 8 (General
Conference Corporation of Seventh-day Adventists vs. Seventh-day Adventist Kinship,
International, Inc., CV 87-8113 MRP, Judges opinion dated October 3, 1991, filed
October 7, 1991, U.S. District Court, Central District of California).
"This court lacks jurisdiction over the subject matter of this
complaint [lawsuit] under the Lanham Act, since defendant has not used plaintiffs
trademark or service mark in any commerce which is regulatable by Congress . . Under the
commerce clause of the United States Constitution, commerce
implies that there is a commodity capable of being reduced to private possession and then
exchanged for goods or services of the same or similar economic value."State
ex rel Douglas vs. Sporhose, 208 Neb. 703, 305 N.W. 2d 6y14, 610 (1981).
Government powers may not be
employed to prohibit religion.
The following legal statements are pertinent to the
may not be employed to inhibit the dissemination of particular religious
views."Murdock vs. Pennsylvania, 319 U.S. 105, 87 L.Ed. 1292, 63
(1943), 145 ALR 81; Fallett vs. McCormick, 321 U.S. 573, 88 L.Ed. 938, 64
(1944), 152 ALR 317.
"Religious organizations are extended the same right under the
free exercise clause to be free from government coercion as is extended to individuals. Kedroff
vs. St. Nicholas Cathedral of Russian Orthodox Church, 344 U.S. 94, 97 L.Ed. 120, 73 S.Ct.
(1952)."Motion to Set Aside Judgment, Hawaii Trademark Lawsuit, 12.
The issue involved here has
already been ruled onand against the General Conference.
Therefore this case
should be dismissed or adjudged in our favor.
Many Seventh-day Adventistswho are not in the General Conference
organizationhave already been awarded the right (by a U.S. federal trademark court,
in the Kinship Case) to (1) call themselves "Seventh-day Adventist" and
(2) use the name, "Seventh-day Adventist," in their organizational name.
They were given the right by the court, although this group of people
are not members of the General Conference or its subsidiaries; and their organization is
neither recognized by the General Conference, nor has ever been one of its entities.
About seven years ago, this decision against the General Conference was
made in the Kinship Case in Los Angeles. On December 7, 1987, the General
Conference filed a trademark suit against that group. That group had been advertising
itself as "Seventh-day Adventist Kinship" (significantly enough, without
once using the word "independent") on unauthorized flyers at Seventh-day
Adventist college and university campuses and letters mailed to Adventist young people.
On October 3, 1991, Judge Pfaelzer issued her decision in the Kinship
Case (General Conference Corporation of Seventh-day Adventists vs. Seventh-day
Adventist Kinship, International, Incorporated, Case No. CV 87-8113 MRP, filed in the U.S.
District Court, Central District of California; filing date October 7, 1991). Here is
part of her ruling:
"This Court is
persuaded that the term, Seventh-day Adventist, has a dual meaning: it refers
not only to the Church, but to adherents of the religion of Seventh-day
Then, after noting several
reasons why the phrase should properly belong to people of that faith, and not merely to a
denominational headquarters, she ruled:
"SDA Kinship claims
that it is made up of Seventh-day Adventists who, despite the attitude of the
General Conference, do not want to forsake their religion and that, in deciding to
call itself the Seventh-day Adventist Kinship International, it was merely
describing its organization in terms of what it is, an international organization of
Seventh-day Adventists . .
"SDA Kinship is entitled to use the term, Seventh-day
Adventist, to identify the religion of the groups membership."Pages
was the contested name in that case. Judge Pfaelzer ruled
that they could retain that phrase in their organizational name, and that they could
individually call themselves Seventh-day Adventists.
If Ellen White were alive today, she would be shocked by what is
"It is no part
of Christs mission to compel men to receive Him. It is Satan, and men actuated by
his spirit, that seek to compel the conscience . . There can be no more conclusive
evidence that we possess the spirit of Satan than the disposition to hurt and destroy
those who do not appreciate our work, or who act contrary to our ideas."Ellen
G. White, Desire of Ages, 487.
"The Church, being supported by the civil authority, would
permit no dissent from her doctrines."Ellen G. White, Great Controversy,
"He [Roger Williams] declared it to be the duty of the
[government] magistrate to restrain crime, but never to control the conscience. The
public or the magistrates may decide, he said, what is due from man to man,
but when they attempt to prescribe a mans duties to God, they are out of place, and
there can be no safety. "Ellen G. White, Great Controversy, 294 [cf.
"The [U.S.] Constitution guarantees, in the most explicit
terms, the inviolability of conscience . . [First Amendment, quoted] . . The framers of
the Constitution recognized the eternal principle that mans relation with his God is
above human legislation, and his rights of conscience inalienable."Ellen G.
White, Great Controversy, 295.
"The church . . [employed the power of the state] and employed
it to further her own ends, especially to the punishment of heresy . . Whenever the church
has obtained secular power, she has employed it to punish dissent from her
doctrines."Ellen G. White, Great Controversy, 443 [cf. 573, 581, 591, 592].
"We should not feel that we have nothing to do. We are to
watch as well as pray. We should watch the work of our adversaries, lest they gain
advantage in deceiving souls. We should, in the wisdom of Christ, make efforts to defeat
their purposes . . God will fight our battles for us, and give us precious
victories."3 Bible Commentary, 1138.
"God would not have us follow the wisdom of men who have
disregarded His Word, and made themselves a reproach by their practises and
counsels."3 Bible Commentary, 1138.
"God will not in the slightest degree favor such [wrong]
practices. He hates every false way. He abhors all selfishness and covetousness.
Unmerciful dealing He will not tolerate, but will repay in kind . . His curse rests upon
all that is gained by selfish practices."3 Bible Commentary, 1158.
It is strange that we should
do that which the leading churches have not yet started doing:
leading churches of the United States, uniting upon such points of doctrine as are held by
them in common, shall influence the state to enforce their decrees and to sustain their
institutions, then Protestant America will have formed an image of the Roman hierarchy,
and the infliction of civil penalties upon dissenters will inevitably result."Great
And just below it:
"The image to
the beast represents that form of apostate Protestantism which will be developed
when the Protestant churches shall seek the aid of the civil power for the enforcement of
their dogmas."Great Controversy, 445.
The Spirit of Prophecy
defines the "church" as being the commandment-keeping people of God.
true church is not a building or office, and it is not the General Conference. This agrees
with the Revelation 12:17 definition of the last-day "remnant." Here are some of
the many references: UL 315, 5T 527, 1SM 208, 8T 200, GC 445-446, 4T 253.
We can be thankful for our Bible-Spirit of Prophecy teachings. We must
be faithful to them to the end, regardless of the opposition we may receive in doing so. vf