A trademark dispute between multibillion dollar sporting goods company Adidas and a small Illinois church that rejected the company's offer of $5,000 to give up their Add-A-Zero logo is heading to trial.
The Christian Faith Fellowship Church proudly declares on the main page of its website that: "Add-A-Zero" was a Prophetic word spoken to our congregation in the early 2000s. In an effort to raise money for the building fund, food pantry, and Firm Foundation Childcare Center, C.F.F.C Zion had the Slogan and Logo trademarked."
A Forbes report notes that the Add-A-Zero trademark was also a symbol to encourage congregants of the church to increase their weekly donations to the church by adding a zero to their preferred amount.
Three years later on September 9, 2009, Adidas applied to trademark adiZero to use in the sale of sports clothing, but their application was rejected because of the potential confusion it could create with the church's brand.
About a year ago, according to Richard Young, a lawyer with Quarles & Brady in Chicago who's representing the church, Adidas asked the U.S. Patent and Trademark office, which is overseeing the case, to cancel the church's trademark registration for Add-A-Zero.
That request was denied approximately two weeks ago, "so now we're getting ready to go to trial," said Young in an interview with The Christian Post on Tuesday.
"We have tried to resolve it. Adidas thinks while they are making billions of dollars selling shoes and apparel worldwide, and while they are paying Derrick Rose a quarter of a billion dollars over 10 years to endorse their products that they ought to be able to take the church's trademark and pay the church $5,000 in return," lamented Young.
"Does that sound fair to you? Does that sound like the Christian approach?" he quipped.
"Well, the church wants to hold on to its trademark, it adopted its mark for fundraising activities to help with the mission of the church. So that's what the mark is all about," he added.
He explained, however, that the church was willing to consider worthwhile offers that can help the church achieve its mission.
"The church is certainly willing to [consider better offers]," said Young. "If it didn't have the fundraising … if Adidas would help with that effort in a more significant way than $5,000, I think that the church would certainly look favorably on such a proposal but Adidas hasn't done anything more than to file their cancellation action and offer to pay $5,000," he said.
Sports attorney Jason Belzer points out in the Forbes report that preliminary hearings of the dispute revealed that the church's Add-A-Zero logo has been the subject of two sales over four years. "Question remains if these sales are sufficient to protect the ADD A Zero mark against abandonment," notes Belzer.
Craig Mason, a pastor at the Christian Faith Fellowship Church, assured The Christian Post in an interview on Tuesday, however, that the trademark was never abandoned in any way and they continue to market products with the logo. He declined to discuss how much product the church was moving and said "it doesn't matter."
The Christian Post reached out to Adidas for comment but no response was forthcoming from the company at the time of publication.
Correction: Wednesday, June 12, 2013:
Richard Young, the attorney representing Christian Faith Fellowship Church in the trademark dispute with Adidas, informed CP on Wednesday that he misspoke, and that he meant to say that Derrick Rose was paid a quarter billion dollars over 10 years, rather than a quarter million dollar over a year.