Kiwi man wins legal battle with mormon church over a family affair

An Auckland man has seen off a legal challenge from the giant mormon church over the trademark for his family location internet service, with the Court of Appeal today ruling against the religious organisation.

The Court of Appeal decision brings a close to seven years of legal wrangling between Robert Sintes and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints over the use of the words ‘family search’.

The church operates a website at familysearch.org which offers free family history, family tree and genealogy records and research, but came down hard on Mr Sintes soon after he launched his own family contact service in 2000.

Mr Sintes first ran into trouble with the organisation when he launched the New Zealand Family Tracing Service, and when he filed an application for a trademark incorporating the words ‘family search’ in 2005, mormon company Intellectual Reserve filed an opposition to his claim.

Four years later and after being dismissed in the High Court, the Court of Appeal has also found in favour of Mr Sintes, saying his use of the mark would not indicate a connection in the course of trade with Intellectual Reserve.

Although Intellectual Reserve could still take the case to the Supreme Court, Mr Sintes told NBR that as far as he was concerned, the matter was “by and large” settled.

He originally started his service after finally getting in touch with family members in the late 1990s, after he had lost contact with them, following a move to New Zealand as a child in 1949.

Mr Sintes said he set up his family search service in an attempt to share his own experiences with other people looking for lost family members, but had no inkling of the legal battle that would result.

“I was just looking to offer a social service when I was suddenly attacked by the third largest religious organization in the world. I was just trying to help people, driven by my own separation from my family after the war, and I can’t even begin to describe what it felt to be confronted with agencies that tried to destroy my efforts instead of help.”

While he estimated he has reunited about 200 families since launching his service, Mr Sintes said there was no money to be made in the endeavour, but that had not stopped the mormon organization from spending an estimated half a million dollars fighting his trademark.

“People who have contributed funds to this group have had their money wasted in this case. I just feel sad for the people who have had their money wasted in fruitless exercises like this.”

Mr Sintes said the task of reuniting familles, and finding the time, resources and emotional strength to do so, was hard enough, and seven years of legal hassle did not help.

With the case consuming both time and money, Mr Sintes said Intellectual Reserve were grasping at straws, but using the “weight of their purse” to pursue the issue.

“These words we have been arguing about are among the top 2% of commonly used words in the English language. They just have an endless supply of other people’s money, which they then go and waste in the pursuing and corralling of common words.”

He said New Zealand was not the only territory targeted by the church in this way.

“They have gone around the world, threatening others to give up domain names and forcing them out purely by weight of money. People have given up domain names they are legally and morally entitled to.

“They attempted the same with me, Originally, they tried to take my domain name, and when they abandoned that, they tried to take the trademark. They might have got away with it, but they had pushed me to the point where I would not give in and it feels good to have the court back me up.” 

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Aren't church's a great example to follow

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To my understanding every story has two sides,but for me as a human it is not my place to judge other people and their beliefs.We came here to experience earth but not to judge one another sbout their beliefs.I have never heard people in the Mormon church say anything bad about others beliefs thats why I am adding to this keep in mind it is Him the almighty that has the right to judge us,but not the other way around.

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and what a completely one sided story... did the author bother to find out why this action was so important to the church? Did he even bother to contact them as he did with Mr Sintes? There's not even a mention that the church 'declined to comment'. Organisations seldom spend thousands of dollars just for the sake of bullying. I'd like to hear what the church has to say. Otherwise this article is a waste of time.

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Mormons are so defensive...Seriously. Honestly, You guys are far worse than Scientologists. Indignant that people find your silly beliefs absurd and bullys to everyone outside your faith.

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"Escalator" anyone?

This article is silent on the prime reason for the Church's action. Does anyone realize how many original pieces of intellectual property, such as trademarks, were lost by companies simply because the companies couldn't demonstrate to courts that they had been trying to keep the integrity of such?

This was a court battle fought not to bully but rather a legal requirement to keep the integrity of an organizations proprietary identity. If you can't demonstrate assertive attempts to protect a name then a court can eject all together your claim to a trademark.

Nothing about that mentioned in the article.

Please don't have your view of a religion be based on a story like this. There was no malevolent intent or desire, there was merely a desire to keep and preserve the overall efforts to protect the integrity of a service our church provides free to anyone on the planet who wishes to use it. Is trying to keep the integrity of that service's name something that's 'evil' or 'bullying' when our church spends, has spent, and continues to spend millions providing a service it doesn't charge for?

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How immature of you to cast your judgement against the church without even knowing their side of the story. This article is one side and thus incomplete.

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No one here needs cast Judgement. Judgement was cast in a NZ Court of Law and the results speak for themselves.

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You obviously know nothing about this church, Have you ever considered investigating its beliefs so you know what you are talking about ?

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LDS Inc never comments on any news that shows it in negative light. Any lawyer that isn't drunk or dead can tell you LDS inc had NO CASE, they just tried to use the weight of their purse, and they failed.

LDS Inc would never comment and would never even return a call to no comment, They have a long history of such behavior.

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In the US this case would have easily been won by the LDS church. Under worldwide ip laws it is vital to fight all of these suits or risk losing your ip. You are ignorant my friend.

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This article is a waste of time!

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There are some pretty wild assertions in this article. The Mormon church hardly goes around the world bullying people. In regards to this gentlemen, it sounds like he's just one of those folks who thinks that he has a cause. I'm pretty sure that none of the Mormon members' money was used to fight this legal battle. The LDS church is very careful with its members' money (and separates business and day-to-day administrative duties from strictly religious ones).

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And where else does the Mormon Church get its money from if it isn't its members? Mormon owned businesses were all bought using tithes (religious) from its members.

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Not necessarily. They receive some donations that are not tithing monies. Some people donate to an education fund, missionary fund, temple fund, etc. Some donate to a humanitarian fund to help people in disasters and the church never asks to be reimbursed.

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Will never know now, will we Alex since the Mormon church refuses to let us know how they spend their (dupes') money.

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Alex - So where did the half million dollars the Church spent on legal fees come from? My understanding is that any money a church has is for religious purposes? "just one of those folks who thinks that he has a cause" helping people find their families sounds like a fair cause to me? Just because his cause doesn't come as part of a franchise uncreatively churned out for the masses like a McDonalds drive thru doesn't make it any less important. Judge not least ye be judged?

EU5912 - Do you not find it extraordinary that a Church has pursued this guy over the use of two extremely common words "Family" & "Search" ... What possible justification could there be?

I imagine this article is very embarrassing for the Mormon Church - perhaps you need to be asking questions of your church instead of jumping on the defensive... turn the other cheek? no?

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I've got to say I agree with God on this one!

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Going after a non-prophet that unites LIVING families so the LDS can do their dead dunking? PITIFUL, just PITIFUL.

Mormons around the world should be ashamed of the callous uncaring actions of their church. But living in Utah, I know that many if not most of them do not give a hoot about non-Mormons.

It is just another case of Christian love coming from the LDS church. Taking legal actions against non-prophets doing very Christlike work, harassing people for kissing... One has to ask, are they really Christian at all?

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If honest intentions were to unite familys and not to gain money. Everyone should be happy. Because the Church will surely reunite ten fold what this one person could ever do. I feel sorry for the church. They revolve around the strength of a family, The church does nothing but good around the whole world, things you would be amazed by if the time was taken to look at the good. Not turn the good into bad.
But I bet not one person talking bad about the church would take time to see the other side.
I do feel bad for the feelings that have been hurt. But we each have that very choice of how we will feel or react.

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If honest intentions were to unite familys and not to gain money. Everyone should be happy. Because the Church will surely reunite ten fold what this one person could ever do. I feel sorry for the church. They revolve around the strength of a family, The church does nothing but good around the whole world, things you would be amazed by if the time was taken to look at the good. Not turn the good into bad.
But I bet not one person talking bad about the church would take time to see the other side.
I do feel bad for the feelings that have been hurt. But we each have that very choice of how we will feel or react.

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The LDS church is not a large religious body.It claims to have a world-wide membership of 13 million but an increasing number of ex mormons are organising themselves and claim the world membership is about 4 million.Many are becoming in-active or leaving as the Internet is getting to many of the US faithful and proving Joseph Smith was a fraud on the back of DNA research,lack of archeological evidence and the constant revision of the Book of Mormon story.It is all about dollars!

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I too have to wonder at the one sided article. It appears they gave Mr. Sintes a free rein to say anything he wanted with absolutely no other side presented. As with most of these things, the truth is probably in the middle somewhere. I also find it interesting how many people are condemning the LDS Church based on the one sided story presented. Based on the last couple of paragraphs, it would appear to me Mr. Sinrtes definitely has an axe to grind.

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Given his experiences with the mormon church, he has every right to grind his axe!

LDS, Inc. lost - hope it happens more often.

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The LDS church would NOT be around. One need only investigate Joseph Smith's translation of "The Book of Abraham" to discover that he was a fraud. I investigated the so called church, I did indeed TRY and see the other side. All I found were lies. The LDS does not unite families, they divide them between worthy and unworthy, routinely excluding unworthy from important family events like weddings. Then there is the Blood Atonement stuff taught by Brigham Young along with the Adam/God nonsense. Sorry, but the LDS church is a fraud started by a huckster. And that fraud does go around bulling people, just like they bullied the people that were doing such good work in TRULY uniting families.

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If anyone really thinks the fact that the two words are within the top 2% of English words needs to consider a few trademarks...

things like-

"happy meal"
"hot jobs"
"united way"
"red box"

If common usage of both words in the English language is grounds for not having claim to a trademark then I want to be able to use the above terms with impunity, along with others that I can concoct using just the top two percent of the most popular words found in a language. Let's see, with 171,000 words considered in current usage by oxford that gives me access to 3,400+ words I can combine. One wonders how many popular trademarks I can cop with such a liberating view on trademark law.

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Good on you Mr. Sintes. You are a man with integrity that wouldn't back down to a bully. And this time the good guy won.

Many years ago I was one of those Mormon missionaries that bothered the people of New Zealand. For that, I apologize deeply. I was a kid that should have known better, but didn't. There are a lot of genuinely good people in the Mormon church, and some not-so-good ones too, like most organizations. The organization itself, however, was founded by a con man and to this day is much more concerned with money and self-perpetuation than it is with honesty, integrity or helping people.

I applaud Mr. Sintes and the New Zealand courts for doing the right thing.

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To me this sounds like identity theft on the part of Stines. FamilySearch is one of the most popular family history sites and maybe he hoped to piggyback off its success. I think organizations, corporations, and individuals have the right to protect their identity and websites. I remember a few years ago the domain oregonstategovernment.com was owned by an individual and he put some horrible information on the site that was x-rated. I can see why organizations would want to protect and buy up related domain names.

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TRUTH and REASON prevailed in NZ - woohoo!!!

The dwindling Mormon sect is losing what little power it thought it had. It can no longer buy court verdicts willy-nilly. Even the ?prophet?-run Mormon Beneficial Life made horrible investment decisions that has left the Mormon sect significantly cash-strapped. Their Jesus-Mall is a money pit. Their college grads are told in commencement addresses to pay into the Mormon sect!! How many college grads are told who to pay money to??? That is so sick and twisted!!!

Shouldn't the Mormon god's one twoo chruch **set the standard and example** of HONESTY and ETHICS in ***everything*** it says and does???

Or do Mormons worship the god of this world after all, the one who haughtily states ''You can buy anything in this world... with money...''

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The Church has been using and registered the name "family search" years ago. Mr. Sintes could have as easily gone with "Family Find" or something that meant the same without stepping on the Church's property. The court ruling is a shame.

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Obviously pretty clear the other way actually Eileen. Just ask the New Zealand court of Law.

I imagine he trademarked familysearch.co.nz which is differentiated and specific to New Zealand.

Also note with a web based business it wouldn't be as simple as going with family find as someone else likely owns this domain.

I couldn't trademark "dog food" as it is a common descriptive for a range of products. Family Search falls into the same broad category and any Trademark Lawyer would tell you that.. A clear case of a bully with a bank account.

Where did dinosaurs come from?

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The Mormon sect actively shields Mormon pedophiles. The story at this link is one of the worst, but it's only one out of how many hundreds that occur each year...

http://www.postregister.com/scouts_honor/index.php

For other cases see http://www.childpro.org/ldscases.htm
and http://www.rickross.com/groups/mormon.html#Sex_Abuse

... for starters.

Is there less pedophilia in the Mormon sect than in the Catholic church, or more?

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For those that say the LDS has the right to "Family find" on some legal grounds? Guess what THE COURTS RULED THAT THE LDS DOES NOT. Anyone making the claim that the LDS has a right to that trademark no longer has a legitimate point. The Courts ruled the LDS has no such claim. :LDS supporters, you lost get over it.

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Looks like the loons are coming out of the woodwork to comment on this story. This story was exceedingly lopsided and provided very little context to the intellectual property issues at hand.

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I found this article to very one sided and the negative comments about the church appear to be based purely on emotion and not on fact.

Regarding the church being only interested in money - If the LDS church is so concerned about money why do their church leaders not get paid? Why does the church spend so much time and money on free services such as family search? Why does the church yearly spend millions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of hours to accomplish so many charitable acts? The LDS church leaders are not rich and they don't leave a legacy of money to their children when they die. The church has never had a major financial scandal and overall does good throughout the world. I have associated with church leaders and the money is always considered as if it were the "widow's mite". In other words they treat it sacredly. Furthermore, I always am amazed at the anger displayed toward the church on such minor issues such as this. To me it is just another indication the church is of God, because if it wasn't from God people wouldn't care...The Caravan Moves On!

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Lane, I'm sorry, but you seem to have missed some facts in your study of Church history and policy.

First, one of the earliest and largest shake-ups in the church was when a good portion of the membership left and considered Joseph a fallen prophet because of the Kirtland Bank fiasco. Although the apologists have "explanations" for it, even in the best of interpretations it was fairly faith-shaking.

Second, you should try to dig information up the "living allowance" or "stipend" that the top leaders receive from the church. Although *most* people in the volunteer leadership positions receive no compensation, that is not true for the top-most leaders. They also sit on many Boards of Directors for church owned businesses and they make considerable monies off the numerous books they typically write. To claim they aren't paid is wrong by most people's standards.

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Are you Catholic?

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Are you Catholic?

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You are seriously mistaken when you assert that Mormon leaders do no not get paid!

The fact is that everyone over the rank of stake president does indeed get paid by the church.
The higher up in rank, the greater the pay and the privileges.

Although the exact amounts paid are a closely guarded secret, they are certainly not "small stipends".

For example Gordon B.Hinckley, a lifelong church employee, was able to write a $100,000.00 dollar check from his personal money during the 1980s in order to make the Hoffman forgery affair go away.

Regular members are being bled to death financially by this fraudulent sect which masquerades as a family church.

The "good" the church supposedly does is also a fraud - they spend only a very small percentage of their annual income on actual charity while amassing hunting preserves and other worldly property.

Mormonism in reality is appallingly different from what God's true church ought to be like.

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There are only two churches...God's church or Satan's...I'm on God's side, so that must leave you with Satan...

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There are only two churches...God's church or Satan's...I'm on God's side, so that must leave you with Satan...

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Nobody on the mormon side had anything to say on the issue yesterday, but if they want to talk now, they are welcome to e-mail me at rsmith@nbr.co.nz

Journalism has a thing called deadlines, and any story where one person says a lot, and the other side refuses to comment, will inevitably lead to a one-sided tale.

The NBR is, as always, perfectly willing to hear from both sides of the story.

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Then you should have stated that the LDS church was contacted but did not return your calls prior to deadline. Without this information it does not appear that you did your job by trying to contact both sides involved.

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common words and initials should be available to everyone to use, like
national, N,
business, B, and
review R

so I can use NBR as a trademark for my own business reports, right?

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Instead of discussing the courts ruling on it's merits, the Mormon hating bigots have come out of the woodworks. People making these hateful anti-Mormon comments would have looked right at home wearing a swastica.

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Mark there is more venom and hate in your comment than most here.

Please debate on the facts and leave the nazi aspersions at home.

Why be so fearful of open debate?

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Robert Smith fancies himself a reporter? What a hack. Is somebody actually paying him ?

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Once again, the NBR is perfectly willing to hear from both sides of the argument. Trying to get comment out of the mormon church can be exceedingly difficult, but we are not prepared to sit on our hands and wait for them to bless us with a response.

Again: Representatives of Intellectual Reserve or the greater mormon church are entirely welcome to contact me at rsmith@nbr.co.nz and tell me their side of the story..

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wise man dont waist time on rubbish, and that what u looking for Mr R. Smith "rubish" if i am the mormon church i wont bother either.who cares about NBR not me, unless NBR pay me money like u, Mr Smith. we dont want argument, waist of time thats why they went to court for, its done. Why NBR not going to court and get their story from them? because court don't give a shit about them and you Robert Smith. this is my personal comment, to you. who care your deadline these people wont talk to you and whatever you do. the door is close. i don't like to argue, i don't go to church but i like peace, means "MIND YOUR BUSINESS." Mr Smith have your parents ever teach you that argument is bad? thats shame. go and find something that makes the world live in peace.

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Please note that telling me I am going to burn in hell, a message which one charming individual has already emailed through, is not helping with the intellectual level of the debate.

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Two male Mormons were doing the missionary thing, knocking on doors and then being told to %$£& off. But then they knocked on the door of a little old lady. They introcuded themselves, and she said "Aren't you the religion that has more than one wife?" "We are" they replied. "Well you ought to be hung, drawn and quartered" she said. "We are," they said.

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I have to wonder about the sanity of some of the commentators on here as well as the validity of the article itself. For example, the loon who said that the LDS church is not a large religious organization and numbers around 4 million world-wide. What a bunch of silly nonsense. There are nearly 14 million members worldwide and over 6 million in the US alone. So realistically 4 million is closer to the actual US membership only. It's almost funny how these articles bring out all the anti-mormon nuts out of the woods. The article itself is 100% one-sided and therefore is NOT legitimate.

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SVB, you point out that the church has nearly 14 million members and take issue with the claims of only closer to 4 million.

Here's why some state it that way.

Most religious organizations in the world cite membership numbers by the number of people who "self-identify" as being of that creed. These reports line up statistically very well with public polls, unsurprisingly.

The LDS church, by stark contrast, uses its own internal membership database numbers. These numbers include members that have long left the faith, but just not formally resigned. It also includes anyone that has completely lost contact with the church, up until that person's 110th (!) birthday.

In short, the numbers are dramatically over-stated when compared to how virtually all other organizations report.

So for a more fair and honest comparison, you can check polls of religious affiliation. I have looked at various ones of these and most would put the number of "people who consider themselves LDS" at something between 4 and 5 million worldwide.

If you only count people who are "active" in the church, the number is probably somewhere in the realm of 2-3 million.

In most parts of the world, outside of Utah, Idaho, and Arizona in the US, the LDS church is a puny sect with virtually no presence or influence.

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Jeez there's some loons out there. I actually feel sorry for the writer Mr Smith. Firstly for having to bother defending himself against some of the nutjobs who have been posting. And secondly, because his story wasn't deemed good enuf to get into Barry's subscribe only private bin.

Time to dust off that CV Mr Smith?

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Robert Smith - while deadlines are important and getting input from both sides is helpful, neither is an excuse for writing a fully one-sided article, which is simply lazy and shameful journalism.

You could have easily done a little research on your own about trademark and intellectual property law without any input from the Intellectual Reserve or the LDS Church. If you would have done some background research on the legal aspects, you would have learned that what Hive R said was right on. In order for a trademark owner to keep their rights in a trademark, they need to show to the courts they have consistently and repeatedly attempted to defend the trademark. Otherwise, they lose the ability to enforce the trademark:
___

From Hive R:

This article is silent on the prime reason for the Church's action. Does anyone realize how many original pieces of intellectual property, such as trademarks, were lost by companies simply because the companies couldn't demonstrate to courts that they had been trying to keep the integrity of such?

This was a court battle fought not to bully but rather a legal requirement to keep the integrity of an organizations proprietary identity. If you can't demonstrate assertive attempts to protect a name then a court can eject all together your claim to a trademark.

Nothing about that mentioned in the article.

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If somebody involved in the case is willing to go on the record with these comments, we are willing to make them public. And while it may have been prudent to repeat every word of the 24-page judgment to cover all aspects of the case, that's not how journalism works.

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How much research could you have done when you didn't even bother to find out how to capitalize the name of the Church correctly?

http://www.newsroom.lds.org/ldsnewsroom/eng/style-guide

(In case you still failed to notice, you capitalized "-Day" instead of leaving it all lowercase, and failed to capitalize "The.")

Mormon is also a proper noun and should capitalized.

You described the Church as "giant" compared to what? the Catholic Church? the Mennonite Church?

You state that the Mormon Church filed and opposition to Mr. Sintes claim, but never bothered to mention that it was to protect their own prior trademark claim. Surely that bit of information is important to the story, was contained somewhere in the court documents you perused, and deserves at least a direct statement as such rather than the vague inference it received. Do the court documents state when the Mormon Church filed for its trademark of FamilySearch? Surely an official representative of the Mormon Church doesn't need to go on record to provide that date to you if they already provided it in the court documents you refer to. How hard would it have been to state that Mr Sintes filed his claim in 2005 while the Mormon Church asserts it filed its claim in 2004, or 2007, or 1998 or whatever the date was in the court documents? Surely this was a factor in the case, but you only presented one side of it. Why does the Mormon Church need to restate to you personally what they already stated in the court documents for you to write your story?

Your article also failed to mention that the Church's attempt to defend it existing trademarks from infringement is a common business practice that is not unique to the Church. For comparison, how vigorously does Apple, Inc. defend its intellectual property through legal channels? A simple web search is quite revealing.

http://www.google.com/#hl=en&q=apple+trademark+infringement&aq=6&oq=appl...

A little research will also reveal that FamilySearch.org consistently has the highest traffic of any other genealogy site on the Web.

http://www.google.com/#hl=en&safe=off&num=100&q=familysearch+traffic&aq=...

You keep asking if someone from the Church will go on record for your story. I hate to tell you this, but they already did. That you are unable or unwilling to digest the court proceedings enough to provide a balanced summary of them for your story already speaks volumes about your reputation.

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Why do you attack the reporter? From the first comment calling the author a "hack" to your ad hominem attack (that means you attacked the author rather than the content of the article), you Mormons just aren't making any friends are you?

The reporter is just reporting. This is just what happened. He made a good faith effort, but the LDS Church refused to comment.

In the mean time, the Mormons on this web site are making me glad I resigned. Can't you just accept the fact that your church lost a court case?

So, as ex-Mormons often hear, just get over it and move on. Why do you have to try to tear down a hard-working reporter for reporting news that you don't like?

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While I appreciate your efforts to correct my style, the NBR, like all publications, has the right to set its own style, and this was the correct way of writing mormon church according to that guide. I also take note of your other objections, but find it difficult to take advice from somebody only willing to talk behind the veil of anonymity.

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Then it seems to me that your 'NBR style' is more interested in just that than the facts.

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@me no - your simply put - a little prick

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Search for the latest cases between Google and American Airlines, Geico, and Rosetta Stone. It is well-settled case law in the US and the UK that search terms can be sold to the highest bidder.

If the Mormon church wants to convince people that they are loving, decent, generous people, they should not decided to drag this poor guy through 7 years of stressful and useless court battles.

Not to mention, the money they spent that could have been used doing all the "good things" that members refer to but have trouble defining.

Why do Mormons think they are being discriminated against every time they lose a court battle?

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I think it's HILARIOUS that people are trying to defend the Mormon "church" by comparing it to BUSINESSES trying to defend their intellectual property. Is the LDS "church" a business or a church?

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We don't need to know the "other side of the story". All we need to know is that the mormon church was unable to do the right thing in the first place. Instead of helping, it fights a legal battle. Instead of bringing families together, it fights to break them up. The church is like an organization that thinks that everyone else owes it something. It is as though it is revenging the death of the prophet and all of the ridiculous claims of persecution by going after those who are truly trying to do some good in this world. What a shame the church doesn't just apologize.

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first off, i do agree that this is a very one-sided article, no matter whose side you're on. very poor journalism.

i do have a rebuttal for someone though:
where are the tax documents then lane? if the LDS/Mormon church gives millions to charities all over the world then you should be able to look up tax documents, at the very least in the US. my church publishes a money report for all of us to see, breaks it down to the electric bill for the church building, the pastor's salary (just under 30K US.) the LDS church does not publish a money report, hmmm..interesting...what have they got to hide I wonder?

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The church is just trying to distract us from looking up Joseph Smith's plural and polyandrous marriages on familysearch.org.

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First, as to the domain name registrations. The court's opinion, which can be found at (http://www.courtsofnz.govt.nz/cases/intellectual-reserve-incorporated-v-...), states that:

"[O]n or about 5 September 2000 Mr Sintes registered his website www.familysearch.co.nz which went live later that month. It was some five months after he had begun helping to reunite families in New Zealand that on 9 April 2001 Intellectual Reserve filed its application 636396, in class 41."

While the court takes issue with the LDS church's subsequent trademark registration, the court neglects to mention that the LDS church's familysearch.org website went live over a year (prior to May 1999) before Mr. Sintes' familysearch.co.nz website. While the registration of domain names is not necessarily dispositive of trademark validity, I do think on a human level the fact that the LDS church first began using familysearch.org on the worldwide web, and that Mr. Sintes only subsequently registered an exact duplicate with the co.nz extension, casts doubt on Mr. Sintes' intent.

Second, Mr. Sintes' mark, which can be found on page 4 of the court's opinion, is in fact quite similar to the LDS church's mark, which can be found on their website www.familysearch.org. In the United States, our law would likely have found in favor of the LDS church on the question of the whether the marks are confusingly similar (I say this as a U.S. intellectual property attorney who also believes that U.S. IP jurisprudence frequently overreaches).

Similarly, on the question of whether the familysearch mark is non-distinctive, U.S. courts would also likely come out in favor of the LDS position. While the words 'family' and 'search' are, by themselves, generic and descriptive, the combination of them into a single mark, as both the LDS and Mr. Sintes have done, would likely be found distinctive in the U.S. While the New Zealand court seems to have been surprised that their trademark office granted the LDS Church a registration for 'FAMILYSEARCH,' few trademark practitioners would likely have taken issue with that.

Third, and finally, the article does not clearly reach the question of the scope of the trademark registrations and the distinctive services Mr. Sintes offers as compared to the LDS FamilySearch service. As noted in one of the concurrences:

"None of Intellectual Reserve’s registrations are for personal services to assist in the location of lost [living] family members. Further, although some of Intellectual Reserve’s registrations do cover services, the extent to which they do so is very limited. By contrast, Mr Sintes’ registration is for services where the needs of individuals for research and a family tracing service to enable family to reunite. The conclusion that the marks relate to different services disposes of this ground of the appeal."

Personally, I sympathize with Mr. Sintes. Being the victim of a corporation as large and aggressive as the LDS church cannot be a pleasant experience. Contrary to the position taken by some on this board, I think that the LDS church need not have taxed its own resources to this extent. Diligent trademark enforcement is necessary as a matter of law only to prevent genericization of one's mark. Given the LDS church's well-established proclivity toward excessively generic marks (like 'Intellectual Reserve'...), I hardly think that small-time operators like Mr. Sintes posed much of a relative threat to their corporate brands.

However, I do not think that Mr. Sintes is blameless here. I do suspect that his domain name registration was likely made in bad faith, given the timeline. His mark is quite similar to the LDS mark, and while the 'FAMILYSEARCH' mark is more descriptive than I personally would have counseled either Mr. Sintes or the LDS church to adopt, I don't accept that the marks are non-distinctive.

The LDS church may well have a good reason to not discuss the matter: their attorneys may be considering an appeal to the Supreme Court, where Mr. Sintes may not find cause to be as jubilant as he now appears to be.

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The Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints(LDS) is on the danger list of NZ Cults http://www.cults.co.nz/c.php#lds .
It is classed as a cult through and through.

The latest DNA technology has totally debunked the myth that the native North Americas,Polynesians and Maori are not part of a lost tribe originating from Israel.So stop pestering our South Aucklanders and go back to dysfunctional Utah and pick on some gays .Your Salt Lake Tribune is full of it. That is amongst the articles about Mormon teachers unlawfully screwing their pupils

Its seems that part of the Blanding ,Utah ward of your cult is facing jail terms after robbing native burial grounds for monetary gain. Try doing that in my home town of Rotorua and you will end up as white pork.

Thank goodness we dont have to put up with the bicycle brigade of missionaries anymore.

As you pull down and pack up the buidings of your soon to be defunct Hamilton Church College I suggest you keep space for that barn you are building at the Wiri -Manakau turnpike.

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"Instead of discussing the courts ruling on it's merits, the Mormon hating bigots have come out of the woodworks. People making these hateful anti-Mormon comments would have looked right at home wearing a swastica."

Those who endorse a pseudo-church should prepare themselves for a generous helping of social opprobrium, in every venue ...

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Social opprobrium.Give me a break! Screwing is a synomyn of opprobrium and your church founding fathers did plenty of that with underage girls.Joseph Smith had 26 wives the youngest was aged 14 years and old Brigham exceeded that total. Polygamy is still part of your doctrine or have they not told you that bit yet?
Old Brigham was so busy he let the menfolk of Salt Lake City murder 120 men, women and children on transit from Arkansas to California for no real reason as they were all strangers to Utah.
This all in your church's records and historian are now asking very awkward question and all they get are the apologetics.

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The US Attorneys comments are sadly misguided, which proves if nothing else how such qualifications may be obtained in America with relative ease...and why so many of their judicial processes are tainted by the structures within which they operate...OJ Simpson? etc.

The correct principles of law are...

1.You cannot take words out of the English language for your exclusive use in marks or domain names. No one can...see the case law.

2. Domain names are not trademarks...they are descriptive words permitting search engines like Yahoo or Google to find web sites embracing in some form those descriptive endeavors or interests. There has been a desire to GRAB the descriptive in domain names by big business which thankfully Courts are now recognizing.
In NZ domain names are STRICTLY 'first come first served.'

3.The Mormons registered 636396 4 plus months AFTER Mr Sintes commenced his work on behalf of families in the hopes it would block his endeavors in what they (thought) was his category of trade, (they failed).

4.
There are THOUSANDS of familysearch domain names available around the world RIGHT NOW...apparently the Mormons think they own and have intellectual property rights over them all.?

5. The Mormons ABANDONED their attempts to obtain Mr Sintes's NZ Domain name in 2005...they lost.

6. They then lost when he applied to obtain his trademark with the NZ Intellectual Property Office.

7. The lost again when they appealed before the Commissioner of Trade Marks.

8. They then appealed to the High Court in New Zealand and LOST again.

9. Then finally lost AGAIN in the Court of Appeal before three of New Zealand's leading and most experienced Judges.

As they are guided by their 'International Legal advisers in Utah'..all I can say is...'where did they get their advice from', and why did they rely on it.? Clearly it was worthless...the facts speak for themselves.

Attacking Mormon beliefs is completely unproductive and unkind..some folk still think the world if flat..but they do no harm ...

Live and let live is my motto...its just a pity the Mormons got sidetracked by bad advice both internationally and locally , in the process wasting hundreds of thousands of their members dollars.

Whilst folk are going hungry all over the word, it all seems to be a terrible waste to this correspondent.

Yes the Mormons can APPLY on fine and restricted points of law to see if the Supreme Court in NZ might listen (for the 5th time to the same failed arguments)....however as boxer Ali said when asked if George Forman had any chance of beating him, he replied..he has two chances..'slim and none.'

In a spirit of Christian charity it would be nice if the Mormons apologized to Mr Sintes and his family for the obvious destruction they wrought on their lives over so many years.

They lost...get over it.!

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The US Attorneys comments are sadly misguided, which proves if nothing else how such qualifications may be obtained in America with relative ease...and why so many of their judicial processes are tainted by the structures within which they operate...OJ Simpson? etc.

The correct principles of law are...

1.You cannot take words out of the English language for your exclusive use in marks or domain names. No one can...see the case law.

2. Domain names are not trademarks...they are descriptive words permitting search engines like Yahoo or Google to find web sites embracing in some form those descriptive endeavors or interests. There has been a desire to GRAB the descriptive in domain names by big business which thankfully Courts are now recognizing.
In NZ domain names are STRICTLY 'first come first served.'

3.The Mormons registered 636396 4 plus months AFTER Mr Sintes commenced his work on behalf of families in the hopes it would block his endeavors in what they (thought) was his category of trade, (they failed).

4.
There are THOUSANDS of familysearch domain names available around the world RIGHT NOW...apparently the Mormons think they own and have intellectual property rights over them all.?

5. The Mormons ABANDONED their attempts to obtain Mr Sintes's NZ Domain name in 2005...they lost.

6. They then lost when he applied to obtain his trademark with the NZ Intellectual Property Office.

7. The lost again when they appealed before the Commissioner of Trade Marks.

8. They then appealed to the High Court in New Zealand and LOST again.

9. Then finally lost AGAIN in the Court of Appeal before three of New Zealand's leading and most experienced Judges.

As they are guided by their 'International Legal advisers in Utah'..all I can say is...'where did they get their advice from', and why did they rely on it.? Clearly it was worthless...the facts speak for themselves.

Attacking Mormon beliefs is completely unproductive and unkind..some folk still think the world if flat..but they do no harm ...

Live and let live is my motto...its just a pity the Mormons got sidetracked by bad advice both internationally and locally , in the process wasting hundreds of thousands of their members dollars.

Whilst folk are going hungry all over the word, it all seems to be a terrible waste to this correspondent.

Yes the Mormons can APPLY on fine and restricted points of law to see if the Supreme Court in NZ might listen (for the 5th time to the same failed arguments)....however as boxer Ali said when asked if George Forman had any chance of beating him, he replied..he has two chances..'slim and none.'

In a spirit of Christian charity it would be nice if the Mormons apologized to Mr Sintes and his family for the obvious destruction they wrought on their lives over so many years.

They lost...get over it.!

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The Mormon church bought an election here in California that took away the rights of people who were doing absolutely nothing to harm them. They also do some good in the world, but make no mistake -- they have a political agenda and extract tithes from their members to fund it.

I don't know about NZ law, but here in the US, I don't think the church would have a particularly strong trademark case. Moreover, it should really think about the PR aspects of going after one guy running a nonprofit halfway across the world. If the shoe fits, wear it, people. You are not free of error just because you believe in Jesus Plus Extra Stuff.

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Your tithes at work!

I wish more members would wise up to what this so-called church really does with their money.

Not the least of which involves building a 2.5 BILLION dollar mall in Salt Lake city while ordinary Mormon famiies suffer financial hardships and do without.

Mormonism is a FRAUD !!!

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This is quite a ridiculous legal battle, Mr Sintes did not deserve to face all of this when he was only trying to help others who had lost family members and reunite them. I can’t understand why the mormon <a rel="follow" href="http://www.ucg.org/bible/new-covenant">new covenant</a> felt they needed to have that exact domain name and search texts he did.

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that Robert Smiths one article can cause 9 hours of constant disharmony amongst complete strangers.

I reckon if you got to know one another, you might actually find something in common.

Peace Out!

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So many of you have no idea what you are talking about... I support the right to petition the courts for justice when you believe injustice has been done. It is not acceptable to put down anothers religion... how would this world be if it was acceptable to attack anothers faith or right to worship God in their way or not to worship at all... because they chose to explore your right to petition the courts on a business matter. The church had the right to file the complaint and Mr Sintes had the right to defend his view... the courts made a decision and that is all that needs to be addressed. Sad people... ill-informed!

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Well said and impartial at that...

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I just find it somewhat sad that there is so much hatred towards the church :c
I understand why they did it, and why he did it, but surely something like this doesn't add up to so much hatred spilling towards church members?

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Such a shame to pursue a man about a few words which in reality nobody can own. Not a good look for the LDS .Doing good to others is not about what you say but clearly about your actions one to another. The LDS fell short here, I would trust the judges decision and ruling. They clearly owe this man an apology.

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Sounds like u mormons need to get back to reading ur bk of mormon B.S! Quit ur bitchin, because the fact is ur church LOST!! Accept it, get over it, and move on!

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People, the mormon church is not true. I exited it and am many times more happy than I was when a member.

Mormons are amongst the most judgemental / 2 faced / hypocrites you would ever wish to encounter. They claim so much but so many members contradict themselves.

Do not join the mormon church.

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