Some months ago the non-Catholic false mystic Vassula Ryden sued Swiss resident Maria Laura Pio, in a court in Belgium, demanding to take down Mrs. Pio’s web site of critical articles, infovassula.ch. The choice of Belgium as a venue was puzzling, since both Pio and Ryden are residents of Switzerland. Maybe some foolish lawyer in Belgium is a follower of Mrs. Ryden and volunteered to do the dirty work at no charge, thinking that he’s serving God by persecuting Mrs. Pio.
When the case came to a hearing, the court in Belgium promptly dismissed it on procedural grounds, so that went nowhere.
Well, Mrs. Ryden has found another foolish lawyer to do her dirty work, and this time she may get her way. A lawyer in Cardiff, Wales, has threatened to sue Mrs. Pio, claiming that the domain name of her web site infringes on Mrs. Ryden’s trademarks. Mrs. Pio has decided not to spend any more time defending herself from such vexatious litigation and has announced (here’s a copy) that she’s closing the site this month.
A commenter on the previous blog post observes:
Vassula and TLIG are at it again and this time may have potentially shut down the one-stop site for truth about the cult – http://www.infovassula.ch/tliglawsuit2.htm
The threats are spurious – and I’ve done some more research on the people behind this. The solicitor who is threatening to sue for legal fees and loss of TLIG(TM) earnings, Anthony Jeremy, is a specialist in CANON law and a fully paid up member of the cult, having posted at length, coincidentally, about the Congregation’s ban on the use of church premises and being mentioned by someone else in a ‘testimony’.
Vassula(TM) is a registered trademark, as is TLIG(TM), which is curious. The attack has no basis, clearly Pio’s site is not trading as TLIG, is not selling a bogus product, in fact is not selling anything and doesn’t even carry advertising! It clearly falls under ‘fair use’, otherwise it would be impossible to ever mention Vassula(TM) or TLIG(TM). Also note that nowhere on the TLIG(TM) site does it mention that these are registered trademarks and only refers to copyright on the message content. I wonder why?
Also note that TLIG(TM) is not mentioned in full, no corporate address or full details of the company. TLIG(TM) seems not registered in the UK as a trading entity. Looking at the Foundation, we find that this is registered in Switzerland. It has one office and one employee. The president, Jan Kooger Howard, has currently 19 separate companies running from front offices around Geneva – none has more than 6 registered employees – his main interest seems to be an oil brokerage for Nigerian oil, Sahara Energy Services. And no, that does not appear to be a trademark!
The trademarks are owned by the VP, another Swiss big businessman, Jacques Gay, one of the Freres Gay and the owner of a few watch clasp patents.
I’ll take your word as to the lawyer’s identity, since I don’t know it for myself. His claims seem spurious to me too: Mrs. Pio isn’t engaged in trade, so it seems strange to claim that she’s violating a trademark. And the claim that Vassula’s followers can’t tell a critical website from a supportive one is really an insult to them.
How a lawyer can make such implausible assertions without turning purple from embarrassment is beyond me, but some people have a natural skill for it.
[Update (August 2012): clarified the description of the Belgian court’s action.]