Mock them using another name

Times Staff Writer

Some things just aren’t funny -- at least to the Church of Scientology.

A New Zealand-based website that says it is devoted to “exposing Tom Cruise’s moronic behavior in his relentless crusade to promote the Church of Scientology” has been ordered by church lawyers to stop using the domain name

The reason: Web surfers might confuse it with the real thing.


The site states that it has no connection with the Church of Scientologists and offers a link to the Scientology home page. Then it post links to a series of videos of Cruise talking about Scientology, including a sci-fi video parody of the actor’s infamous May television appearance on “Oprah,” in which he appears to electrocute her.

“The site is purely satirical and is for entertainment, and consists of links to other sites -- it contains no fact nor claims to do so and is completely non-commercial,” the website said.

The creator of the website could not be reached by press time Tuesday. Church of Scientology attorney Helena Kobrin, a partner in Moxon & Kobrin law firm, said the letter was intended to protect the Scientology name.

“You can’t use someone else’s trademarks to promote your own agenda,” Kobrin said, adding that organizations routinely defend the integrity of their trademarks and copyrights. “Changing one letter is the trick of the infringer to try to get around the law, but the law makes it very clear that you can’t do that.”

The website has posted an exchange with Moxon & Kobrin lawyer Ava M. Paquette, which began in September, in which Paquette warned that the Church of Scientology owns the trademark to the word Scientology.

“The fact that you have changed one letter (‘m’ instead of ‘l’) does not protect you from trademark infringement,” Paquette wrote before pointing out that infringing on a trademark could lead to a $100,000 fine. Paquette then demanded that the domain name be transferred to the Church of Scientology.

The website responded that it was using the name legally.

The letter isn’t the first time Scientology lawyers have claimed that websites had violated its trademark. San Francisco anti-Scientology activist Kristi Wachter received a similar letter from Kobrin four years ago after she registered the domain name

Wachter said Tuesday that, after an exchange of letters, the Scientology lawyers appeared to drop the issue. But a few weeks ago, she said, her Web host was forced to temporarily remove more than 600 pages from her site after Scientology lawyers accused her of copyright infringement under the Digital Millennium Act. When no formal legal challenge was filed after four weeks, the pages were restored.

“I decided not to spend any further time on it because I decided she was just trying to intimidate me, or distract me,” Wachter said.