September 2, 2014

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Evolutionism vs. Creationism Battle Over Trademark Rights

In a trademark battle reminiscent of the famous 1925 battle between Williams Jennings Bryan and Clarence Darrow, ScienceFriday, Inc., owner of an NPR science based radio show called SCIENCE FRIDAY, has filed suit against  the Bob Enyart and Fred Williams operators of creationist website and radio show operated under the brand REAL SCIENCE FRIDAY.

According to the complaint, the plaintiffs have a radio program that has been broadcast for 22 years as well as podcasts, a website, a Twitter account and Facebook page.  The plaintiff’s arsenal appears to include several registered trademarks, including three SCIENCE FRIDAY marks registered for the radio show and podcast as well as a pending application for the website use.  The complaint further alleges that the defendants operate the www.realsciencefriday.com website as well as a radio show by the same name and that the defendants distribute audio CDs and publish YouTube videos by the same name.

One can’t help but notice the painfully clear ideological differences between the parties.  The plaintiff’s website clearly displays a traditional approach to science (including evolution) while the defendant’s website is equally clearly geared to espousing a creationist viewpoint with such articles as Darwin Was Wrong about the Tree of Life.

The plaintiff’s website appears to cover a wide variety of science related issues, while the defendant’s website seems predominenantly focused on attempting to disprove evolutionism and supporting creationism.

The law suit alleges trademark infringement, unfair competition, false advertising, trademark dilution, and cybersquatting (including $100,000 for statutory damages).

While the case has only just begun and we have yet to hear the defendant’s side of the story, it does seem hard to understand how the defendant’s will prevail here.  This is point is particularly driven home when one consideres the defendant’s use of the tag line "Don’t Be Fooledby NPR’s parody titled Science Friday."  Solely from viewing the websites, it is hard to see how the defendant will go about legally demonstrating that the plaintiff’s website is a parody of the defendant’s website and even if this is true, how that might help the defendant’s case.

The saving grace for all concerned, I suppose, is that this case is (so far) solely about trademark issues and hopefully, unlike the Scopes Trial, this case will not be a trial on the merits of evolutionism vs. creationism.

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About this Author

Kurt E. Anderson, Intellectual Property Attorney,  Giordano Law Firm
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In the area of intellectual property and technology law, Mr. Anderson guides clients through the complexities of trademark development, registration, licensing, infringement and policing. He also counsels clients regarding copyright registration, licensing and infringement. Mr. Anderson prepares, reviews and negotiates licensing and development agreements, supply and distribution agreements, independent contractor agreements and intellectual property related professional service agreements.

In the area of business and banking law, Mr. Anderson counsels closely held small to medium...

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