Complaint Filed Regarding Trademark Infringement
Students for Life of America (“SFLA”) has filed a complaint for trademark infringement against a Michigan organization that is using the Students for Life name in competition with SFLA. A complaint for trademark infringement has been filed in the United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan against an organization calling itself Students for Life of Michigan, which is not operating as an SFLA chapter, though initially that was the arrangement. There has been ongoing confusion regarding student leaders and supporters believing Students for Life of Michigan was the same as or affiliated with SFLA. Unfortunately, this group rejected SFLA’s offers to resolve the problem through private arbitration and even refused SFLA’s efforts to mediate the dispute. SFLA even agreed to fly to their offices in Michigan to meet and resolve the issue, but the group refused.
Presently, SFLA has more than 1,200 chapters nationwide and works with all these chapters to advocate for life at the state and local levels on college and high school campuses. The organization calling itself Students for Life of Michigan, while using some SFLA materials and messaging, no longer is operating as a campus group and has expanded its functions to audiences and purposes outside of the SFLA charter agreement, which is tied to the use of our name and materials.
The pro-life movement is blessed with many organizations that work hard every day meeting the needs of mothers and their pre-born children by interacting with, advocating for and serving the needs of specific audiences. Some groups work directly with mothers and infants; some with office holders; some in courts of law; while Students for Life of America, for example, works within a specific framework designed to engage students.
We tried to resolve this quietly, but the fact of the matter is the rules governing trademark are not ours, but we do have to follow them. We are required to control our name, both for purposes of preserving our trademark, but more importantly, for preserving the name and reputation of our organization and to protect students and supporters from confusion and unfair diversion.
Students for Life of Michigan could abide by the student chapters license agreement or could change its name. But either way, SFLA has to follow the laws regarding the use of our trademark.
Click here for a link to the complaint.