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Mars Hill Church in Seattle and unrelated Mars Hill Church in Sacramento recently settled a name dispute. The Seattle church, which is planting multisite campuses across state lines, trademarked its name and logo in August. The Sacramento church agreed to change its logo and recently decided to change it to Real Life Church to minimize confusion as it expands.

"When a church registers its trademark, it's a simple and low-cost way to protect against 'identity theft' by preventing others from misusing its good name and reputation while protecting its investment in branding and name recognition.  It makes all the sense in the world, and is good stewardship of a church's assets. It allows the church to secure their marketing and secure the usage of that trademark, and to make it clear to the community who they are. It's useful in the environment that we live in today with the Internet and the amount of resources that get dedicated to marketing."

"Churches are businesses too. They are more than that, of course, but they have a responsibility to operate and serve in responsible business ways. Churches also have obligations to their members to be responsible in the use of their assets and "brands." I think it follows, by extension, that to have a name and logo that is unique and has value means to protect it through copyright, trademark, and other legal means, or others will use it and devalue what the church has put into it. Just because it is a church doesn't mean that the congregation doesn't have commercial value, branding rights, and reasons to protect the same."

"Though one could argue 'everyone should glorify God and ultimately everything belongs to Him, therefore trademarking in the kingdom is wrong,' this platitude misses ...

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December 2011

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