Greenbelt Interfaith News

    February 1998

    Lawsuit Brought Against Conservative Episcopal Group
    By Heather Elizabeth Peterson
    Greenbelt Interfaith News

    Pre-empting possible action by the Episcopal Church, two New Jersey bishops have entered a lawsuit against a conservative group that has been incorporating under the historic name of the denomination. The Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America, Inc., is led by Bishop William Wantland of Eau Claire, Wisconsin; its purposes for adopting the denomination's historic name have been much debated during the past two months. In a press conference before his investiture in January, Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold indicated that he would take no immediate steps in this matter, and he said that he was committed to dialogue with Bishop Wantland.

    According to Louie Crew's Anglican Pages, the January 29 suit charges PECUSA, Inc., with six counts, including trademark infringement, unfair competition, and false representation. Of the six counts the first four are under federal law and the last two under the laws of New Jersey. They are:

    *infringement of trademark
    *unfair competition
    *false representation (under the Lanham Act)
    *false designation (under the Lanham Act)
    *unfair competition
    *New Jersey trademark infringement

    The suit seeks by way of damages:

    *judgment of infringement of rights and violations of statutes *permanent injunction against PECUSA, Inc. against using the name "Protestant Episcopal Church," "The Episcopal Church," and any variation on those names or marks
    *any money received in using those names
    *complete destruction of all PECUSA documents and other effect bearing those names
    *an accounting of all documents and other effects bearing those names
    *attorneys' fees

    The suit was brought by Bishop John Spong of the Diocese of Newark and Bishop Joe Doss of the Diocese of New Jersey. Bishop Wantland, who is named as the principal defendant in the suit, told Greenbelt Interfaith News, "I would only observe that the lawsuit is brought by two of the most revisionist bishops in the Church, and that the Presiding Bishop has disavowed any involvement with it."

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    © 1998 Heather Elizabeth Peterson
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