The Canadian branch of Chosen People Ministries (CPM), a messianic Jewish group based in New York, says it will appeal a court decision revoking "official mark" status for its menorah design (ct, June 10, p. 20).
Lawrence Rich, CPM's Canadian director, says the ruling should concern other international religious charities with branches in Canada. "What was and is at stake," he says, "is which groups can use symbols or images found in the Old Testament to represent themselves."
The federal court in Toronto said in June that CPM is "an American charity with operations" in Canada. Thus, the court said, it is not eligible for protection under Section 56 of Canada's trademarks act. Chosen People Ministries works in the United States, Canada, Germany, Israel, and Ukraine.
The court also said that because "official marks" carry more exclusive rights than trademarks, CPM could conceivably deny use of the menorah to Jewish groups.
Justice Pierre Blais wrote, "The menorah [has been] the official emblem of the Jewish faith and its people since antiquity. It would be counterproductive to prohibit Jewish organizations and associations from using and adopting a mark such as the menorah, since it [has] always been historically associated with the Jewish culture."
Rich says CPM does not want legal rights to all menorah designs—just to its own.
The Canadian Jewish Congress, a Jewish advocacy group, charged that Chosen People Ministries cannot use any version of a menorah because it is a Christian group. It argued that cpm's use of the menorah in its logo is "scandalous, offensive to Canadians, and deceptive."
Merve White, the attorney who argued the case for CPM, disagrees. He says the menorah captures the group's corporate belief that Jesus is the Messiah prophesied in traditional Jewish teaching. White says that cpm's members use Jewish symbols during their worship services because they are Jews.
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Christianity Today's previous coverage includes:
Menorah WarsCanadian Jews sue Chosen People Ministries over use of ancient symbol. (June 5, 2002)
The ruling is available at the site of the Federal Court of Canada.
Related CJC press releases and news articles include:
CJC pleased with menorah case ruling—Canadian Jewish Congress (May 30, 2002)
Chosen People defends use of menorah as official mark—The Messianic Times
CJC Challenges Claim To Menorah As Christian Trademark—Canadian Jewish Congress (Jan. 7, 1999)
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