We have legal news on two fronts to report.
UK TRADEMARK CASE
I am happy to report that OTO has prevailed against Starfire Publishing Ltd.’s opposition to our trademarks for “OTO” and “O.T.O.” in the United Kingdom. In her decision of June 8, Anna Carbone, the Appointed Person hearing OTO’s appeal, found in favor of OTO, overturning a previous decision in favor of Starfire. OTO’s registrations of the marks “OTO” and “O.T.O.” are now proceeding normally in the UK, joining our previous registrations of “Ordo Templi Orientis” and the OTO Lamen. Under UK law, there can be no further appeal of a decision by an Appointed Person, in either the Trademark Registry or High Court.
Ms. Carbone overturned the previous decision on the necessary points of law, as is required for any successful appeal. She also rejected the opposition’s argument that “OTO” was a descriptive term for a religion that was in widespread use. She accepted our position that “OTO” was merely the initials of the name of a religious organization. She found our prior use of the mark “OTO” on publications to be brand and mark of origin use compatible with trade mark use. She clearly understood that our steps to protect our trademark through registration came from our belief that we are the only legitimate organization entitled to do so. Her decision was made on technical points of law and not evidence, though she did read all of our evidence and had recourse to it from time to time. She did not, therefore, rule on the validity of our historical legitimacy, but she did cite our belief respectfully more than once.
This litigation was not one we initiated -- these were proceedings brought against us by Starfire acting on behalf of Kenneth Grant’s spurious OTO organization, with support from organizations led or founded by other expelled or resigned OTO members, such as Albion OTO and OTO Foundation. These groups would be well advised to find another name. We were merely filing a routine maintenance trademark. Now, having provoked us, they can reasonably expect enforcement proceedings from us if they do not stop appropriating our name, initials and lamen.
All that said, I bear no personal animus against the opposition. I consider Michael Staley, in other circumstances, to be a friend of long standing.
US COPYRIGHT CASE
OTO filed suit in US Federal Court in Southern California against Focus Features, NBC Universal and Vivendi for copyright infringement in connection with the appropriation of images from the Thoth Tarot cards to promote the Woody Allen film “Scoop,” where they were used on the poster, DVD packaging and in the press kits. The case has been resolved to the satisfaction of all parties. Under the terms of the agreement, the details of the settlement are confidential. This was a significant legal case, since OTO took on the world’s largest media conglomerate, represented by the best law firm in Hollywood. We have long taken on corporations many times our size before, e.g. Simon and Schuster, Doubleday and Harper and Row, but NBC Universal Vivendi is many, many times larger and more powerful than all these combined.
I would like to thank everyone, inside and outside OTO, who helped with these cases. The late James Garvey VI° of Tahuti Lodge in New York City made a generous and especially timely donation of $31,000 to assist with the UK case; Jim was the gentlest soul I’ve ever known, but he was an Irish fighter at heart. US Grand Lodge was of assistance more times than I can mention; thanks must go to Sabazius X° and Hank Hadeed for treasury support. I would like to thank Vere Chappell, for skillfully managing the necessary legal financing; Clive Harper for sane counsel and support in the hearings; UK Grand Lodge for support, and in particular Hyperion X° for hospitality during case development; Secretary General Aion and J.-M. Kleeman of OTO Italia for translation assistance; Bill Heidrick for help with evidence development; Ian Rons for his spontaneous public relations assistance as well as attendance at the last hearing; Paul Feazey of Lashtal.com for providing a forum for ventilating the issues arising from the case; and Prof. Bradford Verter for his independent expert opinion. Thanks must also go to our brilliant legal teams: in the UK, our solicitor Nigel Parnell, and our barristers Fiona Clark and Andrew Nichol QC, and in the US, Alan Harris and Dave Zelenski of Harris and Ruble. Many others helped in other ways; you know who you are.
NOW, WHERE WERE WE?
With these two decisions, OTO is again litigation free. We continue -- now with fewer distractions -- our publications program. The completely restored “Confessions” is approximately half complete. Other books that rely on “Confessions” (i.e. cite it extensively) are being held until it is finished. For a foretaste of the revaluation of Crowley’s life this new edition will produce, I suggest reading Richard B. Spence’s Secret Agent 666: Aleister Crowley, British Intelligence and the Occult (Feral House). I made the extensive and numerous sections of “Confessions” deleted by Symonds and Grant available to Prof. Spence, and they clearly helped him to weave his fascinating account of Crowley’s career. In other publishing-related news, Stephen J. King of Australia has been appointed editor of the unabridged Magick Without Tears. He proved his considerable editorial abilities with his recent authorized second edition of P. R. Stephensen’s The Legend of Aleister Crowley.
Frater Superior O.T.O.