Michael Foundation Sues Foundation Contesting Validity Of Copyright
On May 12, 2000, Michael Foundation, Inc., owned by Harry McMullan, III, filed suit against URANTIA Foundation in the United States District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma challenging the validity of URANTIA Foundation's copyright in The URANTIA Book. The lawsuit alleges that the Foundation's copyright is invalid, or in the alternative, that Michael Foundation's book, Jesus-A New Revelation, does not infringe the copyright. Michael Foundation is seeking to have the case heard in Oklahoma City, where Mr. McMullan resides.
In June 1999 Mr. McMullan published and distributed all but the first paper of Part IV of The URANTIA Book as a separate publication entitled Jesus-A New Revelation. Following unsuccessful out-of-court attempts to resolve the matter with Mr. McMullan, URANTIA Foundation decided to defend the copyright in The URANTIA Book through the United States legal system. The Trustees filed suit in November 1999 requesting the Arizona District Court to enjoin the Michael Foundation, from its continued infringement of the copyright. URANTIA Foundation had filed suit in the Arizona District Court because of the proximity of many of the witnesses who would be needed during the case and because of the court's familiarity with the issues and circumstances surrounding The URANTIA Book due to the prior decisions of the court in the URANTIA Foundation v. Maaherra litigation. In those decisions the court upheld the copyright after appeal to the Ninth Circuit and found that the defendant infringed the copyright. Despite evidence that Michael Foundation had shipped 34 copies of its infringing book directly into Arizona and had advertised and sold the work there, the court held Michael Foundation's contacts with Arizona were insufficient to justify the court's exercise of personal jurisdiction.
On May 8, 2000, the Arizona District Court granted a motion by Michael Foundation to dismiss the case on jurisdictional grounds. This decision was made without prejudice to the right of URANTIA Foundation to refile and in no way reflects on the merits of the case.
As an immediate response to dismissal of the case in Arizona, Mr. McMullan filed his suit in Oklahoma. The Trustees are confident that wherever the case is heard their concerns regarding protection of the copyright in The URANTIA Book will be given a full and fair hearing.
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