Diocese files trademark suit in U. S. district court

Diocese files trademark suit in U. S. district court

On September 21, 2010 the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth filed a complaint in U.S. District Court in Fort Worth against its former bishop, Jack Leo Iker, seeking damages and an injunction against his use of the name “Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth” and the diocesan seal, both continually in use by the Diocese since 1983. The case was assigned to U.S. District Judge Terry Means.

Iker and others left The Episcopal Church in 2008 but continue to use the name and seal of the Diocese and continue to occupy and use its real and personal property and spend its funds for their new church.

The complaint alleges claims under the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. §§ 1051 et seq., for service mark infringement and dilution.

The Diocese has registered its name and seal with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

The diocese claims that Iker’s “unauthorized use of the Service Marks in his provision, advertising, and marketing of religious service and works is likely to cause confusion among the public seeking to participate in, benefit from, or support [the Diocese’s] religious services and works.” For example, the diocese alleges that “[m]embers of the public seeking religious services or works of the [Diocese] may attend or support services provided by [Iker] under the mistaken belief that [Iker’s] services are being provided by, sponsored by, or affiliated with [the Diocese].” Similarly, the diocese alleges that “[m]embers of the public may also associate the quality and/or content of the religious services and works offered by [Iker] with those offered by [the Diocese].”

The Diocese seeks to recover damages and to enjoin Iker from “using the Service Marks in connection with the performance, advertising, or marketing of any religious services or works.”

A copy of the complaint is here.