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'Jesus Jeans' spark legal battle over Christ's name

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 Should the word "Jesus" be protected from trademark on the grounds of religion, or are all words fair game when it comes to business? (Shaun Lowe / iStock)An Italian denim brand called "Jesus Jeans" won't turn the other cheek when it comes to its competition using the Lord's name.

After years of fighting to trademark the word "Jesus," the company was granted exclusive rights to it by the US Patent and Trademark Office in 2007.

Now, its taking legal action against anyone in the United States who attempts to start an apparel line with "Jesus" in the title, claiming it a matter of brand integrity.

Virginia entrepreneur Michael Julius Anton recently found this out the hard way when he tried to trademark his Christian t-shirt and surf accessory line "Jesus Surfed."

According to the Wall Street Journal, Anton received an email from Jesus Jeans' parent company BasicNet SpA asking him to abandon his application in November.

"If you do not agree, then Jesus Jeans reserves its right to an accounting/damages and all other appropriate relief with respect to your trademark and trademark application," it read.

Anton plans to hire a lawyer and fight the infringement claim, but if history is a good indicator, it won't be an easy case to win.

Since 2007, BasicSpa has successfully taken on and companies named "Jesus First," "Sweet Jesus," and "Jesus Couture," among others. All abandoned their trademark efforts after being warned that they could be sued for damages.

"If somebody--small church or even a big church--wants to use 'Jesus' for printing a few T-shirts, we don't care," said Domenico Sindico, an attorney working for BasicNet said to the Wall Street Journal.

The commercialization of such apparel, however, "that's a concern," he said, likening the company's claim over 'Jesus' to Nike's use of the goddess of victory in its name.

While BasicNet doesn't have the physical likeness of Jesus trademarked, their trademark on the word Jesus itself covers clothing and sportswear, including jackets, vests, shirts, pants and belts within the U.S.

Attempts to trademark Jesus in numerous other countries around the globe such as Germany, Ireland, Turkey, China, Switzerland, Norway, Cuba and Australia have proven unsuccessful, but Jesus Jeans is registered through the European Union as a "Community Trademark," making it valid across the EU.

In 2003, Britain's patent office rejected their application as "morally offensive to the public."

The Canadian Trade-marks Database shows no that no application has ever been submitted to trademark Jesus Jeans in Canada.

What are your thoughts? Should the word "Jesus" be protected from trademark on the grounds of religion, or are all words fair game when it comes to business?

Tags: POV

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