Appeals Court Ruling

Court Ruling for Name Trademark for Seventh-day Adventist Church Upheld
Silver Spring, Maryland, USA ...
[ANN] On December 18, 1996, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, denied a motion that challenged the Trademark ruling of February 15, 1996. According to the initial ruling, the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) found the trademark and service mark "Seventh-day Adventist," used by the Seventh-day Adventist Church for 130 years in its worldwide Christian ministry, to be validly and federally registered.

Attorney Walter E. Carson from the Office of General Counsel at the Seventh-day Adventist World Headquarters, expressed satisfaction with the Court's ruling. "The way is now cleared for the Church to take all necessary steps to prevent the abuse and misuse of its good name," said Carson. "Our members can rest assured that we will act with dispatch on their behalf."

The Boards majority decision came because of third party efforts to cancel the registered trademark based on allegations of fraudulently claiming first use and genericness. In the February 15 ruling, the TTAB unanimously disposed of the fraud issue by stating that the Church believed, when it filed the application for registration, that its rights to "Seventh-day Adventist" as a trademark and service mark, dating back to 1863 when the Church was established, were superior to those of any other group which might have used the same or similar designation in connection with their activities. Because "there is no proof of fraud here ... that portion of petitioners' claims must fail," the report said.

In a majority ruling on the genericness claim, the TTAB board said: "We find that the petitioners have not established by a preponderance of the evidence that the registered trademark is generic. To the contrary, we find that the evidence of records shows that for a period of over 130 years, the primary significance of the designation 'Seventh-day Adventist' has been to identify the source of origin of religious publications and services emanating from respondent [the Seventh-day Adventist Church]."

ANN Release: January 17, 1997.

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