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 Millerites.

"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 years—since 1844—formed 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 Pfaelzer’s 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 California.

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 (1 Testimonies, 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 Lord’s quiver, it will wound the transgressors of God’s law, and will lead to repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ."—1 Testimonies, 224 (1858).

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. The 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 congregations—all of which were independent of any organization,—began using the name. 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 Encyclopedia, 1044-1045).

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 year earlier. Not until October 5-6, 1861, did the first Adventist conference come into existence.

"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 Encyclopedia, 1046.

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, Seventh-day Adventist. That practice is not unusual; for, in every other religious faith, the same thing regularly occurs—whether 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 fact.

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 property—not of the people or the churches, but—of 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 Church Manual?

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 through His 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 God’s people to use the initials of the God-given name, anymore than it should be wrong for them to use the name itself.

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 [WM–944] 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 Pfaelzer’s opinion, Kinship case, 11 (General Conference Corporation of Seventh-day Adventists vs. Seventh-day Adventist Kinship, International, Inc., CV 87-8113 MRP, Judge’s 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 control.

"Use of the name ‘Baha’i’ could not be enjoined [forbidden to be used by others] because it was the name of a religion."—Judge Pfaelzer’s 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 Pfaelzer’s opinion, Kinship case, 13 (General Conference Corporation of Seventh-day Adventists vs. Seventh-day Adventist Kinship, International, Inc., CV 87-8113 MRP, Judge’s 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 invalidate it.

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.)

"An offshoot launched by Victor T. Houteff, member of an SDA church in Los Angeles, California, in 1929, popularly called the ‘Shepherd’s 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 ‘Shepherd’s Rod] to the Davidian Seventh-day Adventist Association."—Encyclopedia of American Religions, 467.

Another would be the Seventh-day Adventist Reform Movement, commonly known as the Seventh-day Adventist Reform Church. It was working in the United States by the 1930s.

"The Seventh-day 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 secondarily, to a religious organization.

"Adventist: A member of any of several Christian denominations that believe Christ’s 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. cit., 1186.

"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."—Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary, 1975 ed., 1062.

"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 Pfaelzer’s 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 Graybill, representing the General Conference, cited no dictionaries or history books—other than a statement in a Catholic dictionary (New Catholic Enclyclopedia, 140)!

Other church bodies are not suing one another, yet they keep the—and in some cases the very same—denominational name. One example is Church of God (Anderson) and Church of God (Cleveland). That is the actual, full titles of both denominations.

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 similarity.

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, 1981—without 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 Ramik, phoned 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 so.

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:

[1] "Cease all use of SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTIST and/or SDA.

[2] "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 Church’s trademarks and service marks, and otherwise.

[3] "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 caps his].

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.

"Congress shall 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 Pfaelzer’s 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. 1987).

"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 Gallio’s 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 Paul’s 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 Amendment’s 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 statute’s] 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 [one’s] 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. Clauson, 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 one’s 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, 114.

"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. cit., 14.

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. My belief in a set of religious tenets, and my practice of them—is not trademarkable—so 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 Pfaelzer’s opinion, Kinship case, 8 (General Conference Corporation of Seventh-day Adventists vs. Seventh-day Adventist Kinship, International, Inc., CV 87-8113 MRP, Judge’s 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 plaintiff’s 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 present case:

"Government powers may not be employed to inhibit the dissemination of particular religious views."—Murdock vs. Pennsylvania, 319 U.S. 105, 87 L.Ed. 1292, 63 S.Ct. 870 (1943), 145 ALR 81; Fallett vs. McCormick, 321 U.S. 573, 88 L.Ed. 938, 64 S.Ct. 717 (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 on—and against the General Conference. Therefore this case should be dismissed or adjudged in our favor.

Many Seventh-day Adventists—who are not in the General Conference organization—have 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 Adventists."—Page 14.

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 group’s membership."—Pages 14-15.

"Seventh-day Adventist Kinship, International" 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 taking place.

"It is no part of Christ’s 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, 290.

"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 man’s duties to God, they are out of place, and there can be no safety.’ "—Ellen G. White, Great Controversy, 294 [cf. 293].

"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 man’s 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:

"When the 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 Controversy, 445.

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. The 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