Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Wilken & Schwarz on the Trademark Dispute

Host Todd Wilken and Producer Jeff Schwarz (hereafter Jeff and Todd) of Issues, Etc. fame today released a WEB EXTRA OPEN MICS titled “The Issues, Etc. Trademark Dispute and LCMS Legal Threat.” Following below is a synopsis of what was said:

The LCMS abandoned it’s trademark on the name Issues, Etc. in 1999.

“Shortly after the cancellation, the Board for Communication Services that oversaw the program when it was at KFUO passed a resolution recommending to the Board of Directors of the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod that the Issues, Etc. name and other materials like journals and mugs and tee shirts and things like that be offered to me and to Jeff should we desire to have them. At that same meeting the Executive Director of the Board for Communication Services stated that he had no future plans to use the Issues, Etc. name.”

Mr. Harry Madsen, a private individual, upon discovering that the LCMS no longer held the trademark made application for the name Issues, Etc. with the knowledge of Jeff and Todd. Jeff and Todd informed Synod of their intent to start up the show again and of their use of the name, and the LCMS made no objection.

The LCMS Board of Directors (BOD) proposed an agreement in which the LCMS would release the trademark, which Jeff and Todd rejected for the following reasons:

1) They would have had to concede that the LCMS still held the trademark, which it didn’t.
2) Mr. Madsen would have had to abandon his application for the trademark.
3) They would have had to submit to a non-disparagement gag clause.
4) They would have had to waive their rights to a jury trial in the event the agreement was breached.

In November, the trademark application was approved and an announcement was made soliciting any comments (a normal step in the trademark process). In early December the LCMS filed a letter of opposition to the trademark application.

The decision was made in the November meeting of the BOD to oppose the trademark, and the pursuit of legal action was being driven by President Gerald Kieschnick.

In mid-December the attorney for the BOD informed Jeff and Todd of their opposition and threatened legal action against them.

Jeff and Todd do not intend to meet with the LCMS legal representation because:

1) The LCMS still opposes Harry Madsen’s trademark application – a dispute in which Jeff and Todd have no standing.
2) The BOD is still threatening legal action against Jeff and Todd personally. They do not want to enter into any legal negotiations under the threat of a lawsuit.
3) The BOD hasn’t proposed anything new compared with their previous proposed agreement, and their previous position is unacceptable.
4) The meeting which the LCMS’ legal counsel is requesting would be very expensive, and Jeff and Todd prefer to spend their donor’s money on the broadcast of the Gospel, and not on attorney’s fees.

Jeff and Todd’s proposed solution is for the LCMS to drop its opposition to the trademark, an solution which will cost nothing and end all of the problems.

That's a quick synopsis of what they had to say. Now for what I have to say. What type of Christian sues another Christian? Is our Synodical President, the Rev. Dr. Gerald Kieschnick, so steeped in the business world that he has forgotten that he is the ecclesiastical leader of a Synod? What kind of a message is he sending? I am embarrassed for our Synod, and disgusted by his behavior and the behavior of those who are encouraging and cooperating with him.

Right now would be a good time to drop our Synodical President an email and let him know how you feel: LCMSPresident@lcms.org. Tell him Scott sent you. And while you’re at it, an overture on this topic for your upcoming District Convention would be a nice touch too.

Email addresses for the LCMS Board of Directors:

Rev. Victor Belton: Victor.Belton@lcms.org
Mr. Walter Brantz: Walter.Brantz@lcms.org
Mr. Kermit A. Brashear: Kermit.Brashear@lcms.org
Dr. William Diekelman: William.Diekelman@lcms.org
Dr. Betty Duda: Betty.Duda@lcms.org
Dr. Gloria Edwards: Gloria.Edwards@lcms.org
Rev. Raymond Hartwig: Raymond.Hartwig@lcms.org
Mr. Tom Kuchta: Tom.Kuchta@lcms.org
Dr. Robert Kuhn: Robert.Kuhn@lcms.org
Chaplain Donald Muchow: Donald.Muchow@lcms.org
Mr. David Piehler: David.Piehler@lcms.org
Mr. Curtis Pohl: Curtis.Pohl@lcms.org
Mr. Roy Schmidt: Roy.Schmidt@lcms.org
Rev. Jeff Schrank: jeff.schrank@lcms.org
Dr. Kurt Senske: Kurt.Senske@lcms.org
Mr. Walter Tesch: Walter.Tesch@lcms.org
Mr. Ron Schultz, Chief Administrative Officer: ron.schultz@lcms.org

You can listen to the whole thing here:


Anonymous said...

I wonder if at the 2010 convention, they will name all of those who participated in legal action against Wilken and Schwarz as part of the election process...

jus like they did at the 2007 convention for all those who participated in the legal action against President K.

Michael Paul said...

Thanks much, Scott, for taking the time to collect, summarize and present all this!