Getting Tied Up in Our Legal Briefs – Issues Etc Trademark Filing Information, by Norm Fisher

Thanks to  BJS website reader Stan Slonkosky we have the web locations for the various legal filings on the Issues, Etc. lawsuit matter. They are posted on the  US Patent and Trademark Office website. To find these documents, go here, click on Trademarks in the left sidebar, click on 3 Search Database, click on top item “New User Search Form”, and enter Issues Etc. A bunch of looking around produces these documents.

Page showing Issues, Etc trademark status

  • 77487948 is Harry Madsen’s current application for the Issues, Etc trademark.
  • 74235940 is the original LCMS trademark, in effect 4/20/1993 and expired 10/25/1999, as shown below. It is marked as “dead” in the listing.

LCMS trademark Registered April 20,1993
Current status of that trademark, marked as Dead October 25, 1999

Original application by Harry Madsen

Opposition Documentent from LCMS, Nov 20, 2008
Letter stating the opposition is rejected because of lack of notice.

Here is the page where the following came from
Notice of opposition filed 12/3/2008
Notice to Harry Madsen re: opposition
Motion to strike, didn’t receive in time
LCMS opposition to motion to strike
Motion suspended pending dispute
Motion to strike from Harry Madsen
LCMS motion for extension of time

According to Stan, this last posting includes copies of a number of documents, including the one from a LCMS lawyer to Todd and Jeff. The LCMS, Inc., was willing to grant a free license to the “Issues, Etc.” name if they would agree to certain things, including a gag order and getting Madsen to withdraw his application. The LCMS would be able to revoke the license if they thought the agreement was breached.

Thank you Stan for directing us to the data on this case.

Norm Fisher, BJS Technical Director

About Norm Fisher

Norm was raised in the UCC in Connecticut, and like many fell away from the church after high school. With this background he saw it primarily as a service organization. On the miracle of his first child he came back to the church. On moving to Texas a few years later he found a home in Lutheranism when he was invited to a confessional church a half-hour away by our new neighbors.

He is one of those people who found a like mind in computers while in Middle School and has been programming ever since. He's responsible for many websites, including the Book of Concord,, and several other sites.

He has served the church in various positions, including financial secretary, sunday school teacher, elder, PTF board member, and choir member.

More of his work can be found at


Getting Tied Up in Our Legal Briefs – Issues Etc Trademark Filing Information, by Norm Fisher — 14 Comments

  1. Interesting how the LCMS thinks it has rights to a trademark that it doesn’t have rights to any more!!

    Reading some of the documents I’m struck first that, no offence, it seems lawyers & bureaucrats are actually alien creatures whose minds work differently than the rest of us & that their special powers involve making that which is plain incomprehensible.

    Second, it appears that the LCMS dragged its feet on even this opposition & filed it too late & now wants more time to oppose.

    All of which seems to make evident that the LCMS is not doing this because it wants to use the name Issues Etc or because it thinks it can win this case but that the LCMS is pursuing this for reasons of a more dubious purpose, i.e. to try to intimidate Issues Etc & Wilken & Schwarz & to impoverish them if possible.

  2. Well, Chris, I don’t know how much of your congregations money is being funneled up to LCMS, Inc., but I would suggest that whatever the amount that you suggest at your next voters meeting that the money be slashed to virtually nothing and instead be targeted directly to supporting those who support the Gospel.

  3. Does it not seem odd that the underlying premise of their opposition filing states that they fear LCMS’ reputation will be “damaged” by Issues, etc. holding the trademark?

    Perhaps they should have worried about damaging their reputation before firing a pastor in good standing promoting the Scriptures and Lutheran confessions with a popular and extremely broad audience of supporters?

    I think the $300 filing fee (plus who knows how much $$$ in legal costs to just to file) would be better spent on the actual mission of the church that they are supposedely so concerned about. One in which Issues, etc. (old & new) is actually supporting day in and day out!

    There have been other leaders in God’s kingdom that have capitulated to the world’s ways of exercising their God-given ministry. Our synod would do well to learn from their failure and hypocrisy. Thankfully we serve a King who welcomes sinners and grants forgiveness.

    Here is what God spoke thru Micah 3:11:
    Its heads [leaders] give judgment for a bribe; its priests teach for a price; its prophets practice divination for money; yet they lean on the LORD and say, “Is not the LORD in the midst of us? No disaster shall come upon us.”

    Can they not see that it is these continued actions (going back on their word) that are ultimately “damaging” their reputation?

  4. I have tried to put the best construction on this issue and others, but I believe the intentions of Synod can’t be seen any other way. If these thoughts are wrong, please correct me.

    I am sure that it seems much more Christian to seek justification through the civil courts. After all, if the courts rule for the Synod, how could they have done wrong? Well… The 8th Commandment likes to be quoted to those who oppose Synod, Inc., but what does Luther say?
    “257] And in the first place, we take the plainest meaning of this commandment according to the words (Thou shalt not bear false witness), as pertaining to the public courts of justice, where a poor innocent man is accused and oppressed by false witnesses in order to be punished in his body, property, or honor.”
    Does anyone believe this is not about punishing?
    What about coveting?
    “298] And yet we pretend to be godly, know how to adorn ourselves most finely and conceal our rascality, resort to and invent adroit devices and deceitful artifices (such as now are daily most ingeniously contrived) as though they were derived from the law codes; yea, we even dare impertinently to refer to it, and boast of it, and will not have it called rascality, but shrewdness and caution. 299] In this lawyers and jurists assist, who twist and stretch the law to suit it to their cause, stress words and use them for a subterfuge, irrespective of equity or their neighbor’s necessity. And, in short, whoever is the most expert and cunning in these affairs finds most help in law, as they themselves say: Vigilantibus iura subveniunt [that is, The laws favor the watchful]………302] In like manner, if any one desire to have a castle, city, duchy, or any other great thing, he practises so much financiering through relationships, and by any means he can, that the other is judicially deprived of it, and it is adjudicated to him, and confirmed with deed and seal and declared to have been acquired by princely title and honestly.”

    The Synod spent $300 just to file the original opposition application. Considering attorney fees, court costs and associated legal and filing fees, I am curious as to how much good these funds could have done for Pastor Stefanski in Sri Lanka. or any other missionaries that are struggling.

    Anyway, this just makes me sick.
    God bless you Pastor Wilken, Mr. Schwarz, and Mr. Madsen. Stay strong, or I should say “Steadfast”

  5. Neither the legaleese or the synods actions make sense to me! How do they think this can turn out in a positive way for the LCMS? So many questions.

  6. I thank God for for the faith of Mr. Madsen. He is a fine example of a steadfast brother to Pastor Wilken and Jeff Schwarz. He quite an encouragement to this brother of John the Steadfast.

  7. I encourage all of you to not only contact the BOD and SP, but also your DP and question why Synod is engaging in open sin. This is what I have done, and maybe it will not amount to much, it will express to our DPs the frustrations we see in unrepentant Synodical leaders.

    Kiley Campbell

  8. Kiley; do you have contact information? Check out and click on “Issues Etc Trademark” in the left sidebar. We are looking for people to help us build the site, so anyone willing to help out please register on the site! Dig though the synod constitution and put helpful guides to us all on the website!

  9. From page 4 of the original opposition letter:

    WHEREFORE, Opposer respectfully prays that this opposition be sustained and the application for registration be denied.

    Is that a typical statement for a legal brief? I mean…I assume prays to God, right? It seems strange to include that sort of statement in such a formal document.

    I like the paragraph following, too…basically an authorization for the government to debit the LCMS whatever they think is the right amount. Wow…that’s one statement I won’t be putting on my taxes…”I think this is right, but just in case, here’s my account number…”

  10. Considering that “The Anti-Missourian Brethren” were able to call themselves that, I would hazard a guess that not every title with the letters ‘LCMS’ in it can be considered within the trademark of the LCMS…so, I would counsel the Issues, Etc., team to grab a trademark for both, “LCMS Issues” and another name, so that they can use the former whenever they have to address things specifically referring to this hyper-litigious, always self-interested/self-consumed ‘church’ body.

    EJG (poolside in Minuwangoda, drinking a Lion Stout and working on some “Theology of the Cross” class notes, asking God why I am cursed to look like the Europeans in the unfortunate swimming suits before me, even while thanking Him for giving me the good sense not to be dressed similarly in public [which would be considered a federal crime in the U.S., I’m sure])

  11. Thank You for your support.

    There is a side bar item to note.

    On 2-2-09, on the same day that LCMS counsel submitted to USPTO a Motion to Extend Time, with a copy to me as per the rules, counsel on the same date, without notice to Madsen, attempted to set up a meeting with Lutheran Public Radio, LPR, employees for the purpose of “setteling the matter of the trademark.” The team appropriately gave me a heads up.

    On 2-3-09 I did twop things:

    First, as LPR president I issued a directive to all LPR employees:

    “In that LCMS has initiated against the owner, licensor, of the trademark, “Issues, Etc.” with USPTO, that is the proper and continuing forum in which to resolve any dispute as to the use of the trademark. You are therefore herewith directed not to engage in any negotiation, meeting or discuwssions with any attorney, officer or representative of LCMS on the matter of the trademark until the dispute initiated by LCMS has been resolved in USPTO or any federal court appeal from a USPTO ruling. Nothing in ths directive restrains your comment on this matter on or off air.”

    Second: I sent two letters in the same certified mail envelope to Dr. Gerald Kieschnick, one as LPR president and one from me individually, each of which ended with the following:

    “Dr. Kieschnick, this is a demand that you cease and desist from circumventing the forum you have yourself elected, by overtures to employees of Lutheran Public Radio who are without authority to negotiate in the matter of the usage of the trademark, “Issues, Etc.”

    2-9-09 Return Receipt posted. HBM

  12. Thank you for #13.
    I have been wondering how
    1. lcms inc. could think they own a trademark they let lapse 10 years ago, and why anyone would give them the time of day, much less a reply to their protest, over someone else using it;
    2. why Tod or Jeff would be sued personally since anybody paying attention knows they don’t control the trademark;
    3. and finally, why lcms inc. thinks it has invested any money in the trademark “Issues, Etc” since the program had to pay its own way and support “Lutheran Foundation” (whatever that is) as well.

    Note to Stefanski:
    Being an inlander, you may not be aware of what passes for a “bathing suit” among the kids back home. OTOH, I daresay the people whose appearance you are regretting are probably neither young nor shapely.

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