Of Angels, Coffee, and Trademarks

Bruce Godfrey posted about a coffee shop in Utah ("Just Add Coffee") that was selling shirts depicting the Angel Moroni having coffee poured into his trumpet. The LDS Church was not amused and sent a letter to the coffee shop owners asserting that the Angel Moroni was a registered trademark and they had to stop selling the shirts.

From the Deseret News story:

In a letter sent to Beazer's home last week, the shop owner was informed that the image of Moroni is a registered trademark of the LDS Church. The letter also requested that Just Add Coffee discontinue use of the image in advertising campaigns.

Attorneys for Just Add Coffee have sent a letter to church officials to inform them of the shirts and request that the shop owners be sent proof of the trademark.
"If they provide proof, we're going to comply," Beazer said. "We don't want to break any laws or anything."
Church spokesman Scott Trotter confirmed to the Deseret Morning News on Thursday that the image is an LDS Church trademark.

If the LDS Church has a trademark on the Angel Moroni, then there's a clear violation of their rights and the coffee shop owners are infringing. I say if, because there's no evidence that the LDS Church has any registered trademark for the Angel Moroni.

As noted on the Deseret Spectacle blog, a search of the U.S. Trademark Office's database yields no results for the Angel Moroni. I did a search for all marks registered to Intellectual Reserve (the LDS Church corporation that owns their intellectual property rights) just to avoid missing any image marks (like this one), but no results for the Angel Moroni.

Now the Washington Post picked up the story, continuing to accept the assertion from the initial story that the LDS Church has trademarked the image of the Angel Moroni.

Admittedly, it's possible that the LDS Church has a state trademark in Utah, just not a Federally registered trademark. In preparation for my Trademark class tonight, I decided I'd search the Westlaw database of state trademarks, going back to 1900. Still no luck finding any Angel Moroni marks.

The upshot of this research is that the LDS Church does not have a registered trademark on the Angel Moroni. At best, they may have some common law trademark rights acquired through using the depiction of the Angel Moroni, but that's a far, far cry from a "registered trademark" as asserted by the LDS Church lawyers and spokesmen.

And here, I thought that Mormons weren't supposed to lie about stuff.

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Maryland Libertarian Convention Report

I attended the 2007 Libertarian Party of Maryland convention last Saturday. The official business was focused on ratifying our constitution and selecting our new Executive Board.

One of the speakers was George Phillies, who is running for the 2008 Libertarian Presidential nomination. I've heard him speak at previous Libertarian National Conventions, most notably when he was running for LNC Chair. He was not the best speaker at any of these appearances, though he always presented clear ideas.

His speech on Saturday was much improved from all those previous experiences. He was impeccably dressed in a grey suit and red tie, his hair was well coiffed, and he looked more Presidential than professorial. More importantly, he was animated and well spoken. His positions on issues were presented with enthusiasm and in plain language (with the possible exception of the issue of foreign debt held by China). He answered questions, even pointed ones, with ease and confidence.

The most pointed question was mine. I asked him what he had done to improve his speaking since the last time I had seen him. He said simply, "I listen to suggestions and take good advice." He's never going to stop being professorial, but he's turned into a much more engaging speaker, and he'll continue to improve.

Prior to seeing him speak on Saturday, I was leaning towards Steve Kubby, due to his speaking skills. However, I was ambivalent about it, since I thought Phillies had better positions. After Saturday, I'm confident that Phillies is the best choice we have for our Presidential candidate.

Yours truly,
Mr. X

...back on politics...

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Just a Tiny Crack

The filling in one of my bottom molars has developed a tiny crack between the edge of the filling and the surrounding tooth. It's not really loose yet, but I can feel the gap when I run my tongue over it during the day. Which I do. A lot.

Good thing I have an appointment to get it fixed next Tuesday.