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Sex-ed petition uses ministry's trademark

'Truth for Youth,' which headed signature sheets in support of the Medford schools' curriculum, is owned by a Louisiana ministry

One man's catchy phrase is another man's trademark.

Medford Truth for Youth was the heading on citizen petitions that were delivered to the Medford School Board last week in support of the district's sex education curriculum. Truth for Youth also happens to be trademarked by a Louisiana evangelist who doesn't approve of the school district's plan to teach students basic facts about contraception required by Oregon law.

We found it more than ironic that they were using our trademark, said Pastor Tim Todd, who sent letters to the school district and the local chapter of Planned Parenthood asking them to stop using his trademarked phrase within 10 days.

Todd's Revival Fires organization distributes Truth for Youth Bibles that include comic book illustrations about sex, pornography, abortion, evolution and other topics. He said in a telephone interview that the school district's sex education curriculum is in opposition to what the Bible says and opposes what we're trying to accomplish.

The Medford School District had not received the letter as of Tuesday, said Todd Bloomquist, curriculum director. The provided the school district with copies of the letter that Todd had faxed to news organizations.

— We will have to write some kind of a response, Bloomquist said, after we receive the letter.

That should be easy, he said, since the school district has never used Todd's trademarked phrase.

The first time I heard (Truth for Youth) was after the school board meeting, Bloomquist said.

The phrase surfaced when district residents met to organize a petition drive to support the school district's sex-education curriculum, said the Rev. Kurt Katzmar, of Medford Congregational United Church of Christ.

There is no program and no organization (called Truth for Youth), Katzmar said.

It was just the heading on the petition, he said.

It's such an alliterative term. I'm sure it's used all over (the political spectrum) ' right, left and center.

The petition drive was a response to another campaign mounted by Pastor Peter John Courson of the Applegate Christian Fellowship, who had criticized the sex education curriculum. Members of other Christian churches gathered signatures from people in support of the district, and Katzmar presented them to the school board during its Jan. 17 meeting.

Some people in the crowd sported Medford Truth for Youth stickers.

Todd said he could understand how people 2,000 miles from his office in West Monroe, La., might have used his phrase without knowing it was trademarked.

It was not a mean-spirited letter at all, he said.

There are more than — million trademarks on file with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Medford Truth for Youth appeared on a Web page maintained by Planned Parenthood Services of Southwestern Oregon early Tuesday, but it had been removed by late in the day. The phrase had been used in connection with Planned Parenthood's efforts to encourage support for the school district's sex education curriculum, said Paul Robinson, Planned Parenthood's community relations director.

There was no campaign to make (Truth for Youth) a permanent part of this community, Robinson said.

Todd said his organization learned about Medford Truth for Youth from a Grants Pass woman who attended the school board meeting and was familiar with Revival Fires' ministry.

She was shocked to see they were using our name, said Todd, whose father founded Revival Fires 54 years ago. I had an aggrieved grandmother concerned about the illegal use of our name.

If this grandmother had not contacted me I wouldn't have known anything about it.

Todd said the Bible teaches that sex outside of marriage is wrong. Katzmar said abstinence is the base of Medford's curriculum, too, although it includes information about how to avoid pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.

I'm not quite sure what the argument is, he said.

Sex does seem to happen among teenagers, he said, but there is no evidence that providing them with information about reproduction increases teens' sexual activity.

Reach reporter Bill Kettler at 776-4492, or e-mail Sex-ed petition uses ministry's trademark "bkettler@mailtribune.com.Trademarks protect words

Patents, trademarks and copyrights protect different kinds of intellectual property.

Patents protect inventions and improvements to existing inventions. Trademarks include any word, name, symbol or device, or any combination, used or intended to be used in commerce to identify and distinguish the goods of one manufacturer or seller from goods manufactured or sold by others, and to indicate the source of the goods.

Service marks include any word, name, symbol or device, or any combination, used or intended to be used in commerce to identify and distinguish the services of one provider from services provided by others, and to indicate the source of the services.

Copyrights protect literary, artistic and musical works.

' from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Web site:www.uspto.gov/