The cases of trademark dispute are a part of the commercial sphere. Competitive companies are bound to disagree over use of some common terms amongst themselves. However, it seems that spiritual institutions like the Churches are also not free from such situations.
WIPO recently came across a dispute between two Churches regarding the use of two domain names, namely HigherSpiritualism.com and HigherSpiritualism.org. Interestingly both the parties used to work together earlier.
The Complainant claims to have made the use of the term CHURCH OF HIGHER SPIRITUALISM in 1970. The Complaint began using the mark for commercial purposes in 1980. The Complainant owns wordmarks over the said mark in the US as well as Australia. Both of these marks were registered in 2020.
The Complainant claims that the Respondent joined the Complainant in 1976. However, later the Respondent separated, went to Australia and started its own church under the name HIGHER SPIRITUALISM. The domain name HigherSpiritualism.com was passively held. While the domain name HigherSpiritualism.org redirects to the blogspot website of the Respondent’s church.
The panel presented that the domain name dispute was a part of the larger dispute in between. Considering the present case, the panel’s jurisdiction won’t suffice and other jurisdiction authority is needed. The dispute is already in the Courts and hence the panel decided to refrain from making any decision and denied the Complaint.
You can read the full case here.