How a new independent 'church' is trying to wrestle away control over the word 'Scientology' - 2016-11-09
We asked our attorney and webmaster, Scott Pilutik, to help us understand what's going on with the "First Independent Church of Scientology" and its effort to get a trademark on its name. We reported recently that tax exempt status was granted to FICoS, which is made up of former Church of Scientology members who have broken away from it and want to practice Scientology's processes independently. But forming a small non-profit is one thing, getting trademark of a name that includes the word "Scientology" is another. Scott helps us understand what's going on.
Many years ago an attorney who represented the Church of Scientology's intellectual property interests (and whom I'll not name out of professional courtesy) told me in a moment of frankness that the one thing that kept him awake at night was the possibility of a court one day finding the trademarked term "Scientology" generic. He didn't have to explain his fear. The commercially disastrous implications of a court finding any mark generic is well understood.
By definition a mark can only be deemed generic after it has become extremely famous and thus lucrative. This cause and effect is easier to see in the retail universe, where, for example, Bayer's "Aspirin" had become so ubiquitous a headache remedy that consumers started using the term descriptively, and the term was soon found by a court to be generic. Bayer was a victim of its own success and suffered commercially when its competitors began to sell their own brands of "aspirin."