about the conflict around the domain name "www.scientologie.org"
Dissident group wins in "Scientologie" vs. "Scientology
The Church of Scientology has experienced another setback in its attempts to silence critics. At the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in Geneva it lost a case regarding the rights to the internet domain "www.scientologie.org" against the "dissident group" "Freie Zone e.V." (Free Zone Association).
In 1995, the Free Zone Association, a non-profit organization registered in Munich, Germany, acquired the exclusive rights to the 1934 published book "Scientologie - Science of the Constitution and Usefulness of Knowledge", written by the German-Argentinian philosopher Dr. A. Nordenholz. Shortly thereafter it registered the domain name "scientologie.org". The domain was put on hold by the registration authority when the "Religious Technology Center" (RTC), the organization which manages the Church of Scientology world-wide, filed a protest against the use of the domain by the Free Zone Association. In March 2000, the hold position was about to be terminated, so the RTC was forced to recourse to the formal "Domain Dispute procedure" at the WIPO, which since beginning of this year supplies this arbitration procedure for disputes concerning the international "com", "org" and "net" domains.
The RTC founded its claim on its trademarks regarding the word "Scientologie". Apart from that it tried to picture the Free Zone Association as a "group of an underground nature", trying to mislead internet users by unfair means. The Free Zone Association held against it its rights to the book with the same title (whose author has no connection whatsoever to L. Ron Hubbard who founded Scientology in the early 1950s). The WIPO arbitrator didn’t follow the argument of the RTC and concluded that the Free Zone Association uses the domain in good faith for legitimate purposes, i.e. to promote the book and his author, Dr. A. Nordenholz. The complaint was rejected with a decision dated July 3rd and the domain returned to the Free Zone Association.
The Free Zone Association is a non-profit organization founded by former members of the Church of Scientology. The purpose of the organization is to enlighten the public and initiate a discussion about the philosophy and practice of Scientology. Chairman Bernd Lubeck, Munich, himself having been a Scientology member many years ago, explains that his Association doesn’t strive for a "pay-off" with the Church of Scientology. The intention was rather to research and make public the techniques developped by the founder of Scientology, L. Ron Hubbard, as most members of Scientology have made good experiences with them. In that course the attention of the Association was drawn to the Nordenholz book which contains some interesting parallels. The book was made available to the public in a new edition.
However the Association and its members sharply delimitate from the Church of Scientology whose practices and handling of members "definitely are not as L. Ron Hubbard intended it", so Lubeck. "We are still interested in Hubbard‘s philosophy, but don’t want to yield to the dictatorship of the Church of Scientology." Thus on the internet pages of the association, to be found under http://www.freezone.org and http://www.freezone.de, many critical reports from people who left the Church of Scientology can be found. Consequently the Church of Scientology tries to put the association and its chairman in an unfavourable light or even silence them with all means.
"We feel the decision regarding this domain dispute is an encouragement to go on with our public relations work" comments Lubeck the WIPO decision.
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