Saturday, October 29, 2005
The Church of Scientology “cease and desist” order isssued last month to the New Zealand owner of a Tom Cruise parody website called scienTOMogy demanded they shut down the site, and transfer ownership to the Church, or face a lawsuit of up to $100,000.
The website responded on Saturday by stating, “Their claims are completely frivolous” and that “scienTOMogy.info is a parody site showing the recent lunacy of Tom Cruise—confusion of any kind with their site is literally impossible… We’re keeping our domain… see you in court.”
On September 14, the Church’s law firm, Moxon & Kobrin, responded via email that the scienTOMogy website domain was an infringement of their trademark that would cause a “likelihood of confusion” with their own, and thereby broke federal law. Specifically, the Church cited the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. ? 1125(a).
The Lanham Act contains the federal statutes governing trademark law in the United States. The Church would have to prove factors such as “proof of actual confusion”, “product types, proximity and marketing”, “their respective appearance and meanings”, and “(bad) intention behind selecting the mark”.
Glen Stollery, the website’s owner hit back at the Church by stating, “We have researched this and believe their claims are completely without merit. The church can provide no proof as to any confusion regarding the sites. For instance, scientology.info does not even exist, so compared to scienTOMogy.info it is hardly a matter of someone hitting the wrong key. We also have a Full Disclaimer at the top of the front page and in the website’s meta-tags stating that there is no connection between ourselves and the church. Not to mention the fact that the site is completely non-commercial in nature, and does not generate a single cent of revenue nor offers any services of any kind. It is a parody site showing the recent lunacy of Tom Cruise—confusion of any kind with their site is literally impossible.”
Stollery continues “The non-commercial use of a trademark as the domain name of a website—the subject of which is consumer commentary about the products and services represented by the mark—does not constitute infringement under the Lanham Act.” Bosley Medical Institute v. Kremer (9th Cir., Apr. 4, 2005). In this instance, we are even one step further removed as their trademark is “scientology” not “scienTOMogy” Their claims are completely frivolous.”
If this is the case then it would not be the first time the law firm would be found guilty of filing frivolous complaints. In 1994, Helena Kobrin of Moxon & Kobrin, counsel for the Church of Scientology, was ordered to pay sanctions in the total sum of $17,775 for filing a frivolous complaint in federal court. Stollery states on his website that he believes this is simply a way of “scaring any critics into instantly backing down at the prospect of costly lawsuits regardless of their innocence.” In closing he says to the church “I’m calling your bluff. File your lawsuit we’re keeping our domain… see you in court”