[Random-bits] UDRP - Dispute over scientologie.org

James Love love@cptech.org
Thu, 03 Aug 2000 12:37:12 -0400

Subject: UDRP - Dispute over scientologie.org
   Date: Thu, 03 Aug 2000 12:34:36 -0400
   From: James Love <love@cptech.org>
 Organization:  http://www.cptech.org
        To:  NCDNHC <NCDNHC-Discuss@lyris.isoc.org>

    Religious Technology Center v. Freie Zone E. V

Dispute over http://www.scientologie.org 

Intellectual property disputes involving the Scientology are usually
interesting, and this dispute is no exception.

Apparently a German organization called the Freie Zone e.V. (Free Zone
Association) owns the copyright to a book "Scientologie," that was
published in 1934 by the philosopher Dr. Nordenholz, and was apparently
an early foundation for the current religious philosophy, Scientology,
which was proposed by L. Ron Hubbard in 1952.  The Freie Zone group
registered the domain scientologie.org  from NSI in December 1995, with
the intent of selling the book Scientologie, and offering information
critical of the Church of Scientology.  The Church of Scientology has
registered trademarks in the word Scientologie in 9 countries, beginning
in 1984, some fifty years after the Nordenholz book was published.  The
Freie Zone group also has a current registration for scientologie.de.  

The Church of Scientology complainted to WIPO that the Freie Zone group
was "an international association of an "underground" nature that has,
as one of its purposes, interference with the activities of Complainant
and its affiliated organizations," and citing its trademark in
Scientologie, they asked WIPO to give them scientologie.org.

This is from the Respondent's May 31, 2000 Response:

        "Respondent is not an underground association. It was founded
registered publicly under the law of the Federal Republic of Germany. It
runs webpages in many different languages to be found at
<www.freezone.org> and <www.freezone.de>. The goal of the association is
to support the philosophies of cognition and the free use of the
technology and the philosophy of L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of
Scientology. As the Book by Dr. Nordenholz is in the field of philosophy
of cognition, Respondent inquired into that work. Respondent purchased
the copyright, republished the Book, and registered the Domain Name in
order to promote the philosophy of Dr. Nordenholz. According to
Respondent, the free and unrestricted pursuit of Scientology is
currently impossible both in the Church of Scientology and in society in
general. Respondent explicitly separates itself from the official and
unofficial organizations of the Church of Scientology.

        "After NSI suspended Respondent's Domain Name, Respondent
registered a
domain name <scientologie.de> with DE-NIC. Complainant never legally
objected against this. Respondent uses the "de" domain as a substitute
to <scientology.org>, continues, however, to pay the annual fees to NSI
in order to keep the domain name <scientologie.org> alive. Respondent is
still interested in using the disputed Domain Name and considers the
country domain "de" not as a suitable substitute.

        "The word "Scientologie" as a name for the philosophy is the
intellectual property of Dr. Nordenholz and is protected as a "work
title" according to  5 Sect 3 of the German Trademark Act. This right
was originally acquired by Dr. Nordenholz by publication of his Book in
1934 and did not expire. In addition, Respondent holds the copyrights
for the Book, which entitles it to sell and market the

        "It is Respondent's explicit interest not to be confused with
Complainant or its affiliated organizations. It is obvious to internet
users that Respondent's home page does not have any affiliation with the
Church of Scientology or Complainant.

The WIPO panel found for the Freie Zone group, and rejected the request
for a transfer of the domain, noting:

        "Looking at Respondent's history as stated on its website, it
to be a renegade group of the Church of Scientology: Free Zone was
founded around 1982 by "Captain" Bill Robertson, apparently the "right
arm" of L. Ron Hubbard at the time. According to the Articles of
Association of Respondent, the "purpose of the association is to inform
the public about the philosophies of cognition, especially the
philosophy of L. Ron Hubbard, as well as about organizations working in
this field. The association emphatically differentiates itself from the
official and unofficial organizations of the Church of Scientology. The
members of the association do not agree with their practice as well as
their interpretation of the philosophy of L. Ron Hubbard." 

        "In summary, it is apparent that Respondent separated from the
of Scientology, whose founder and leader, L. Ron Hubbard, assigned all
rights to the trademark SCIENTOLOGY to Complainant. On the other hand,
Respondent is holding genuine rights in the German Book entitled
"Scientologie - Wissenschaft von der Beschaffenheit und Tauglichkeit des
Wissens" which seems to be sharing philosophical roots with the
philosophy of L. Ron Hubbard. The copyrights and other rights in this
book have been licensed to Respondent by Dr. Nordenholz?s heirs, and
these rights appear to be even older than Complainant's trademarks.
Under these circumstances it cannot be said that Respondent has no right
whatsoever and no legitimate interest in the Domain Name. In the
contrary, to use the Domain Name as an international platform to
disseminate information about Respondent?s book and its underlying
philosophy appears to be a legitimate interest in itself of Respondent.
Accordingly, Complainant has failed to sustain its burden of proof in
this respect.

Possible NCC resolution language:

1.  The decision in the scientologie.org case was correct, and a good
illustration of the need to protect the public's right to free speech
and criticism.  

James Love, Director           | http://www.cptech.org
Consumer Project on Technology | mailto:love@cptech.org 
P.O. Box 19367                 | voice: 1.202.387.8030
Washington, DC 20036           | fax: