Trademark Violation

An Earlier Battle: CompuServe ACIM Forum

A "tempest in a teapot" was created when attorneys for FIP wrote CompuServe (CIS) in September 1994 in response to the "unauthorized message board and file library" which they said was "operating on CompuServe under our client's federally registered trademark and service mark A COURSE IN MIRACLES." The attorneys threatened to sue CompuServe unless it forced the section of the New Age Forum entitled "Course in Miracles" to stop using the name of the book and its abbreviation, "ACIM", in connection with forum activities. The response of CompuServ was quite abruptly to terminate the existence of the ACIM Forum, which had been an active gathering place for an international community of Course devotees, where lessons were posted daily and an active exchange of Course-based discourse took place. It was suggested by CIS that students continue messaging in the "Interfaith Dialogue" Section of the Religion Forum, and CIS subsequently transferred some of the messages to that Section. Since students needed some way of identifying themselves as Course students, they started to use "ACIM" in the subject header. The CompuServe System Operators promptly deleted all of these messages in compliance with the FIP demands. This prompted several forum members to write to the Foundation for Inner Peace. Joy Green (Steadman), better known by her screen name "Reja", was one of these members who wrote a letter to FIP about the disruption and concern. She received in return a phone call from Judy Skutch who told Reja she wanted the group to use the terminology "Miracle Studies". Eventually, with encouragement from FIP, CompuServe agreed to open a new Section in the Religion Forum entitled "Miracle Studies".

Doug Monkton:

Doug Monkton writes:

"If you were participating in A Course in Miracles study group in the late 1990's, perhaps you recall your teacher or facilitator stating during one not so warm and fuzzy meeting that the advertisements in the local paper would no longer indicate weekly study groups of "A Course in Miracles", but would instead indicate the meeting location and time for "miracle study group". Such was the impact of the Foundation for Inner Peace in its attempt to administer control over its claimed ownership of the trademarks to A Course in miracles. "

He has since published a book regarding the litigation:


 Tom Whitmore: Another Point of View






 "Jesus said,'Grapes are not harvested from thorn trees, nor are figs gathered from thistles, for they bear no fruit. A good person brings forth good from the storehouse * * *.'"

-Thomas, 45:1-2



 "The law hath not been dead, though it hath slept."

-William Shakespeare, Measure for Measure

There is an increasingly vocal component of the Course community that believes something like this (from a letter to a friend):

Letter from Tom to a Friend
June 4, 1999:

What has incited this flurry of activity by one who normally is content to allow others to exercise themselves over such issues as "control" is a message that I received a few days ago about the seeming tightening of the already too strict (IMHO) censorship of Course discourse. I'll send that to you separately.

You are, of course, referring in your post to the suit involving the folks at Endeavor Academy. I do not know what they are up to specifically. It is not germane to what I see as the real issue.

For my part, I am proceeding from the belief that the Course ought to be freely available to everyone, regardless of their ability to pay. Our Course group, which is probably more affluent than many, has a couple of participants who use public library volumes to read along with us because the $25 (or whatever) pricetag on the book is too much for their budget. What if the Foundation, strapped though it may be, would permit someone to publish the material on the internet for free downloading?

What is wrong with someone posting the daily lessons from the workbook on a bulletin board, with or without commentary? No one dares attempt such an activity, because the Foundation prohibits it.

What is the problem with a person making attractive calligraphy cards with Course quotations and (God forbid!) selling them for a couple of bucks? The Foundation has forbidden it.

There are many examples of free distribution of literature by organizations with a mission to propogate a particular message. Every time I turn on CNN, some sports figure wants to give me a book about how to gain a personal relationship with God. The Church of the Latter Day Saints still spends big advertising dollars to distribute free literature. And Bibles are still distributed free, with no watchdog agency to say that Genesis must accompany Mark or John.

Such activities would serve to introduce the Course to people who would never encounter it otherwise, and would promote widespread dissemination of the material. What are we afraid of, anyway? After all, "The truth needs no defense." (I hope I don't get in trouble for that quote!). You get the point, I am sure.

So, my schtick is not whether or not Endeavor should be supported or suppressed. I really have no opinion on that subject. What I am concerned with is an apparent barrier to the free circulation of the Course and the beneficial ideas that it contains.

Shouldn't we be doing something different these days? We certainly have seen enough of unforgiveness and un-Love-ly behavior these past months. Or is it just business as usual?

So, Jim, my Mind is open to the facts. Whatever the sorry state of the Foundation's affairs may be and however noble the motives of those in control, there is certainly a solution to be found that serves the preservation of the integrity of the document as well as the widest possible distribution of it. My solution is to admit that the basic document was given to the people, belongs to the people, is in the public domain and ought to be freely available to all. The Foundation can have the revised and edited version and the publication rights to that enhanced text."


Letter from Tom to Val Scott
June 28, 1999:

You asked why we ought expend all this energy to find one of the pre-copyright manuscripts? Because they are out there, and the fact that they are out there can be demonstrated; and when it is demonstrated it will be clear to all (lawyers, Courts, judges, copyright holders, copyright violators and all) that the Course was given to the people and belongs to the people, and not to the money changers who would secularize a holy thing and turn it into an article of commerce.

The Christ is not always milk toast and honey.... Why did Jesus drive the money changers out of the temple? To restore the sanctity of a holy place.

Why should we energize this quest to assert the right of the people to the Course? To preserve the holiness of a sacred text.

God's plan is the one in which no one loses. There is a way open here where everyone wins.

I have said before that it is the original manuscript of the Course that was published without reservation of rights. The editorially enhanced version that is in print now is subject to copyright. KW can have that document and go in peace.

What is in the public domain is the original text. What we need is one of those pre-copyright transcripts so we can demonstrate what is public and can be freely read, quoted, compiled, excerpted, distributed and commented upon by anyone, anytime, expressing any point of view and any interpretation, all without the need for Big Brother's approval. See?

May the True Author of the Course shower you with every blessing,

Course In Miracles Society
7602 Pacific Street, Sutie 200
Omaha, NE 68114
A Course in Miracles-Original Edition