Saturday, 18 August 2007
The Simpsons Movie is out, and a new cultural high water mark has been reached that far surpasses Dovstoyesky's modest pot-boilers. To celebrate the movie's release, Pastor Generalissimo Joe Tkach, unelected "president-for life" of the WCG, has produced what is obviously a tribute to Homer Simpson. Read the following (source) in a Bart or Homer voice and you'll see what I mean.
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SPECIAL LEGAL NOTICE to all U.S. and International Pastors, Mission Directors and National Directors
As most of you know, the Worldwide Church of God, USA ("WCG") and Plain Truth Ministries Worldwide ("PTM") became totally separate and distinct legal entities, effective January 1, 2006, in a friendly disassociation approved by, among others, the Board of Directors and the Advisory Council of Elders. Subsequently, on August 4, 2006, the WCG transferred to PTM all its right, title, and interest to the United States Trademark "The Plain Truth" (the "Trademark").
WCG has no rights to the Trademark (subject to an exception that WCG may mention the magazine in reciting the WCG history, but no one should rely upon this exception without first discussing it with the Legal Department).
So as to be clear, in the present case the Trademark is a title – i.e. the words "The Plain Truth." When I refer to "the Trademark," I mean this title or its legal equivalent, the title "Plain Truth."
Since WCG no longer owns the United States Trademark, WCG is directing that all entities under the legal control of WCG (defined below) discontinue all present mentions of the Trademark in any U.S. media and refrain from any future use or mention of the Trademark in the United States. Precisely what this means is explained more below.
Entities under the legal control of the WCG include, for example, but are not limited to, all American churches and any international National Church or any local congregation of a National Church which operates in its country (a) under the registration of the WCG, California Corp. or the WCG D.C. Corp., or (b) where the legal link to the WCG is such that the international National Church or its congregations are subordinate to the WCG in that it must obey the operational directives of the WCG.
The WCG requests, and strongly advises, any entity related ecclesiastically to the WCG, even though it not be legally controlled by WCG (defined below), to also discontinue any present mention of the Trademark in the United States and refrain from future mention. Although the WCG would not incur liability for any infringement by an entity not legally controlled by it, the entity in question may still incur liability for itself if it infringes on the Trademark.
Entities affiliated ecclesiastically but not controlled legally by the WCG would be those that are recognized by the WCG as part of the denomination, but which would not be legally bound under the terms of its own charter, statutes, articles, bylaws, or the laws of its country, to obey directives of the WCG in this matter.
Discontinuation of present use and refraining from future use means to not mention or display the Trademark in any media, including, without limitation, print, radio, television, and the internet which circulates in the United States, or which originates on a web site that is hosted in the United States. This means, for example, that we are directing that no newsletter, magazine, broadcast, and no web pages of WCG or local web pages of any of its American local congregations, and no web pages hosted by the WCG directly or indirectly (even though the web page may be that of a non-controlled affiliate) may mention the Trademark (unless, of course, you have the written permission of Plain Truth Ministries Worldwide, which it may or may not grant). For example, a controlled entity may not in the United States advertise a magazine which carries the Trademark, may not show its picture, and may not link to the Plain Truth Ministries Worldwide website without its written permission.
We are directing that the Trademark not be infringed here in the United States because it is a registered United States Trademark. At least two other international magazines, one from England and one from Malaysia, each use the same words as the Trademark in their title, and, presumably own the words they use as their own trademark in their own country, and perhaps in other places outside their country also (although not in the United States). These entities may continue to use their own trademark in their own areas. They may wish to check with their own legal counsel for further clarification.
Nonetheless, no controlled entity of the WCG may show pictures of, advertise, nor mention the magazine with the American trademark, nor mention or advertise the two other international magazines with the same words of the Trademark, in any media it produces and originates or circulates in the United States. For example, the WCG publication Together may not advertise either of the other two magazines (published in England and Malaysia) which use the same words as the Trademark, even though the other two magazines own their own trademarks in their own countries.
The WCG wishes to stress that this directive is to ensure that the WCG, nor any of its controlled entities, inadvertently infringe upon the Trademark. This directive does not indicate any ill-will between the WCG and PTM. No such ill will exists. The dictates of the United States trademark laws require the foregoing restrictions on use. Now that PTM owns the Trademark, it is a fact that it may lose its rights in the Trademark if it allows others to use the Trademark improperly. If the circumstances were reversed, PTM would be required to issue the same directive, and would do so.
I want to stress that our policy here is slightly more restrictive than the law requires, and that the WCG is not, by adopting this strict policy, agreeing to abide by a stricter standard than the law requires, nor is it waiving any rights of any kind it may have in the matter. Although it is possible that, under some very special circumstances, a mention of the Trademark may be allowable because such mention fits within a legally recognizable permitted fair or informational use with or without a disclaimer, or because such a mention is historic, such mentions would be rare and to avoid inadvertent infringements our internal policy is that no mentions of any kind may be made without advance permission from the Legal Department.
Finally, we understand that this issue is complex and the requirements of the law sometimes appear counterintuitive and contrary even to the Trademark owner's own interests. Therefore, we invite anyone who needs clarification of any kind to contact the Legal Department by email at Legal.firstname.lastname@example.org. We prefer the questions be in writing so that we may clearly understand the situation and reply in writing as well.
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So could this have something to do with the bizarre anti-church gospel being preached by Joe's former best-buddy and Plain Truth "owner-operator" Greg ("religion is bad") Albrecht? Is Joe embarrassed over Greg? Is Greg embarrassed over Joe? Do they still exchange Xmas cards? Is Joe still on the PTM board? Does anyone with living brain cells find this directive convincing? Is Greg still a minister of WCG, or even a member? If he isn't, how come he gets away with calling himself "pastor"? Will either Greg or Joe have a hernia if AW links to PTM?
And most importantly, is there a donut in the house?