Concern Expressed over Trademark Issue

St. Louis, MO (July 3, 1998)-In 1996, the General Assembly of Presbyterian Church in America (A Corporation) became aware that paperwork had, years before, been filed with the Patent and Trademark Office in order to make the initials "PCA" a federally-protected service mark. For the past three Assemblies, the question of what is covered by this service mark and the extent to which denominational churches and presbyteries may use it has been the subject of discussion.

Concern about the fact that the Board of Directors of the denominational corporation may be able to take legal action against somebody in the PCA over the rather "trivial" matter of infringing on the denomination initials led to action. Responding to a personal resolution, the General Assembly mandated that no legal action could be initiated without first trying other, ecclesiastical means.

The measure passed after a brief debate. John White said: "As an officer of the Coca-Cola Company, we have some knowledge about trademark and service marks. . . . For the Assembly to say that it will not protect the trademark is tantamount to losing trademark."

Alluding to the Apostolic teaching in I Corinthians 6 about not suing a brother, Randy Greenwald, Pastor in Greenwood, MS, countered: "I would rather tamper with federal law than with the law of God."

When Mr. White realized that he had neglected to read the last clause of the resolution, which allowed for legal action if all other means failed to resolve an infringement, he withdrew his opposition, and the resolution carried.