We received the following yesterday and followed it to its source, where it appears to remain credible. We found it a helpful reframing of the Ft. Worth trademark infringement suit reported here last week.
Last week, the Diocese of Fort Worth hauled former Episcopal Bishop Jack Iker into Federal Court. He is accused by the Diocese of violating US trademark law, in that he is using the seal and name of the Diocese of Fort Worth, which are not his to use.
On the surface, this may sound like some sort of legal nit-picking. In fact, it is an interesting move by the attorneys for the diocese. It puts Iker between a rock and a hard place. Here how: The Diocese of Fort Worth registered the seal and name only in July of this year, stating that they had been in continuous use since at least 1983, and that the Diocese is the rightful and only owner and user of the same. Iker must now defend his ownership and use, by using the argument that he's been using all along; that TEC is a voluntary association of dioceses, and that any diocese can disassociate with the national church at will, taking their property - including their trademarks - with them.
This matter is already before the Texas courts, where it is already aimed at determining which the "real" diocese is. And it's been suffering lots of delaying tactics on former Bishop Iker's part. And, I think, some lack of clarity on the part of the Texas courts.
Now the Diocese is going after a Federal ruling to determine who has the right to use the seal and name of the Diocese, and therefore which the "real" diocese is. Federal courts are pretty much bound by law to say the real Diocese is the one The Episcopal Church Identifies as such. To this layman, the trademark complaint appears to be a clever legal maneuver aimed at getting that settled. ~Lawrence L. Graham
What do you think?