The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit rejected a defendants’ motion dismiss various trademark infringement claims brought against him by two Seventh Day Adventist organizations. Suit was brought by General Conference Corporation of Seventh-Day Adventists and General Conference of Seventh-Day Adventists (Plaintiffs/Adventists) against Walter McGill (Defendant), after McGill broke off from the Seventh Day Adventist Church congregation and began his own congregation (apparently of which there are only 3 members) under the name Creation 7th Day Adventist Church.
Originally Adventists brought a trademark infringement lawsuit against McGill in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee at Jackson for his use of protected marks belonging to Adventists in advertising and promoting his breakaway church. In response, McGill brought a motion to dismiss based on the Free Exercise Clause and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which was denied by the district court. Subsequently, and after McGill’s repeated refusal to appear for a court-ordered mediation to which he had initially consented, the district court entered default judgment against him and granted partial summary judgment in favor of Adventists.