(CN) – The pastor of a “breakaway” Seventh-day Adventist church failed to convince the 6th Circuit that the name of his church, A Creation Seventh Day & Adventist Church, does not violate the main church’s trademarks because it was divinely inspired.
Walter McGill was baptized in a traditional Seventh-day Adventist church, but decided to form his own church in 1990 due to a theological dispute. McGill said the name of his church came from a divine revelation. Though the church has just three members, it has allegedly sparked other splinter congregations.
For his new church, McGill created the domain names 7th-day-adventist.org, creation-7th-day-adventist-church.org, creationsseventhday-adventistchurch.org, creationsda.org and csda.us, among others.
The General Conference Corporation of Seventh-day Adventists and the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists sued him in federal court, accusing him of violating their trademarks and cybersquatting.
McGill argued that the name of his church is protected by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and that Seventh-day Adventism is a generic religion that can’t be trademarked.
The Cincinnati-based appeals court upheld a default judgment for the organized church.
“It would be inappropriate to conclude … that the public considers ‘Seventh-day Adventist’ to refer generically to a religion,” Judge Karen Nelson Moore wrote for the three-judge panel.
The panel similarly rejected the pastor’s religious freedom argument, explaining that “Congress did not intend the statute to apply against private parties.”