In today’s Deseret News there’s a story about a clash between the LDS Church and a coffee shop located in Taylorsville, Utah. The shop, Just Add Coffee, garnered the attention of the LDS Church when it began using a modified image of the angel Moroni in its advertising.
The LDS Church’s intellectual property office sent a letter to the owners of Just Add Coffee last week, informing them that the image of the angel Moroni is a registered trademark belonging to the Church.
T-shirts being sold at the coffee shop feature an image of the angel Moroni, the golden statue of a male figure in a robe blowing a trumpet that sits atop many LDS temples. In the Just Add Coffee version, Moroni’s trumpet is angled upward as coffee from a pot is poured into it.”It was a spoof,” [the shop’s co-owner] Beazer said. “It was meant to be fun.”
It apparently didn’t amuse the LDS Church, whose members are discouraged from drinking coffee.
The same image of Moroni has also been used by the coffee shop on greeting cards and, most recently, in a newspaper ad. The LDS Church has requested that the shop discontinue use of its trademarked image of Moroni.
Just Add Coffee has pulled the newspaper ad, but is continuing — for the time being — to sell the shirts. Shop owners have requested that the Church provide proof of its trademark claim before the shop decides to stop selling “the best-selling T-shirts” they’ve ever done.
I tried searching for the Moroni registered trademark on the United States Trademark and Patent Office Trademark Electronic Search System; I couldn’t find it. But the LDS Church holds a few dozen registered trademarks — I must have just missed it.
I did find, though, that on September 5th, 2002 the LDS Church filed for a trademark on the word “Mormon.” Initially denied, over the ensuing years the objections of the trademark office have been rectified. Last month the application was “published for opposition.” This appears to be the final step before the trademark is registered.
The LDS Church has been unhappy with polygamy-practicing fundamentalists referring to themselves as Mormons. What will happen once the word “Mormon” becomes a registered trademark of the LDS Church? Will the fundamentalist groups all receive letters from the Church’s intellectual property office requiring them to stop referring to themselves as Mormons? I wonder…