Critical Synodical News — Leveraged Issues Etc. Trademark Challenge

As you probably know, the LCMS Board for Communications Services fired Pastor Todd Wilken and Mr. Jeff Schwarz, host and producer of the radio call-in show Issues, Etc.  a year ago during Holy Week. In the meantime Pastor Wilken and Mr. Schwarz  garnered enough support to restart the radio program.

That was a very emotional period for many in the LCMS. It was difficult to understand why the synod would cancel such a popular show that had enough listener support to continue on the air. Seven thousand people signed a public petition asking the synod to restore the program but President Kieschnick, the Board of Directors and the Board for Communications Services ignored the pleas.

Issues, Etc. set up shop independent of the synod and just when things were starting to roll smoothly some six months later in November, President Kieschnick and the Board of Directors decided to hinder Issues, Etc. application for its trademark. The synod had let the trademark go back in 1999 but  all of the sudden it had an interest in getting it back, even though they had given all of the Issues, Etc. paraphanalia (T-shirts, mugs, bumber stickers, etc.) to Todd and Jeff. Here is the letter from the synod’s attorneys threatening legal action against Todd and Jeff if they would not sit down and negotiate even though there was nothing to negotiate.

When you read the following timeline of actions on this matter it becomes clear that the LCMS Board of Directors wanted to leverage the trademark (that they did not control) for the purpose of  keeping Wilken and Schwarz from airing criticisms  of the LCMS. This is really sleezy behaviour for a church body.

In the following memo President Kieschnick asserts that he had no part in this ordeal and yet all along, he was a member of the Board of Directors which managed the whole process. He had every opportunity to preserve unity in the synod by stating that he was opposed to this leveraging of the trademark and that he would do all in his power to stop it. He did nothing of the sort. Instead, he simply hid behind the semantics of this memo.

This is unacceptable behavior on the part of the Board of Directors and the president of the synod. We hope you will join us in asking the board and the president to repent of these sins.

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Critical Synodical News — Leveraged Issues Etc. Trademark Challenge — 5 Comments

  1. I strongly encourage the Board of Directors to reconsider their legal action. It was bad enough that we lost a very informative and Christ-focused radio program, but to pursue and harass these brothers in the faith is shameful.

  2. Anonymous (#1): They have reconsidered their legal action; the issue is that they have not taken responsibility for their actions and repented of their original sin, AND they let it go on for so long, causing unnecessary worry and legal expenses on both sides. They have stated that a statement will be issued, but none has been forthcoming.

  3. Norm,

    Thanks for your remarks. I happen to believe the Kieschnick administration needs to repent in a twofold manner. 1. As has been well-stated, they need to repent for their treatment of Pr. Todd Wilken and Jeff Schwarz before and after March 18 of last year. This tiff Pres. Kieschnick, et al are having over the Issues Etc. logo is just silly since the timeline clearly shows they had no claims to it in the first place. The logo clearly belongs in the hands of Issues Etc. 2. The Kieschnick administration needs to repent for the way it has manipulated the Missouri Synod as a whole. On the one hand, they have repeatedly spoken of Ablaze, et al programs as movements and, thus, not theologically askew. Well, Ablaze is clearly Pres. Kieschnick’s attempt at changing the Synod’s theology–a.k.a. both belief and practice. Thanks be to God who preserves and sustains the voice in the wilderness of American evangelicalism, Issues Etc. who dares to take its Christ-centered stance day in, day out, and always on demand!

  4. This is a trademark opposition. From what I see no one has even threatened a lawsuit. They are just opposing the registration of “Issues of ETC.”.

    The file is available at It looks like the USPTO received the opposition in Dec. 11, 2008 and dismissed it in 2/25/2009. Sadly, for some reason the actual opposition was not even added to the TM file.

    A notice of allowance was mailed 4/7/2009. You just need to file a specimen of an actual use and you have a registered TM.

    So short story, from what I see, the LCMS tried to stop you from getting the TM, but lost.

    Wow, it is pretty sad when the USPTO has to fend off LCMS from Issues etc like this.

  5. Being ABLAZE! means never having to say you’re sorry–

    or mea culpa–

    or please forgive me–

    or whadda mistake-ah to make-ah.

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