Lawsuit: McMullan And Michael Foundation V. Urantia Foundation

   
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The discovery period ended on March 1, 2001 in the lawsuit filed by Harry McMullan III's Michael Foundation seeking to invalidate the copyright in The URANTIA Book and the Foundation's trademark rights in the words URANTIA and URANTIAN. URANTIA Foundation has requested that the court enter summary judgment upholding the validity of the copyright and trademarks. Those of you who are interested can view a copy of the legal brief on the Foundation's website at http://www.urantia.org/sites/default/files/newsinfo/SJM030101.pdf.

For almost a decade, Harry McMullan III has used his influence, personal wealth, and three different organizations to wage an assault on the intellectual property rights held in trust for nearly fifty years by URANTIA Foundation.

The first time McMullan challenged the intellectual property rights entrusted to URANTIA Foundation was through Asoka Foundation, a nonprofit organization established by McMullan. McMullan, directly and through Asoka Foundation, provided $73,000 in financial support for Kristen Maaherra's unsuccessful legal challenge to the trademarks and copyright in The URANTIA Book.

The second time McMullan challenged these intellectual property rights was through a fraternal organization called The Fellowship, on whose Executive Committee McMullan has sat since 1979. In 1996, Harry McMullan III and others proposed that the Fellowship print its own, unauthorized edition of The URANTIA Book. This project was adopted by the Fellowship, and Mr. McMullan helped oversee the publication, known as the Uversa Press edition of The URANTIA Book (which is no longer sold to the public).

He also used his influence to persuade the Fellowship to retain Ross Plourde, McMullan's current and longtime lawyer, to file an amicus curiae brief in support of Maaherra. He personally attended the proceedings before the ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. However, unwilling to accept the court's decision in Maaherra, he immediately made the decision to wage another legal challenge.

This time he is doing it through Michael Foundation, which he established in 1995, and which he established, among other reasons, to publish Jesus A New Revelation, consisting of Papers 121-196 from The URANTIA Book. In this third attempt to invalidate the copyright and the marks, he has recently indicated that he may adopt a new strategy, one not raised by his attorneys in any of their previous filings on his behalf.

Based on recent statements made under oath by Harry McMullan III, his new strategy is to ask the court to find that the copyright is invalid because the real author of The URANTIA Book is the anonymous person referred to on pages 1208-1209 of The URANTIA Book. His argument would likely be that this person owned the copyright and never assigned his copyright to URANTIA Foundation.

Mr. McMullan stated in a recent deposition that he doesn't know whether he believes that the listed authors in the Titles of the Papers section of The URANTIA Book are the true authors of the respective papers. (2d Dep. p.11, p. 66-67). He is no longer willing to acknowledge that The URANTIA Book or Papers 121-196 contained in Jesus A New Revelation is a revelation (2d Dep. pp. 65-67). To support his premise that the human subject must have been the author, McMullan cited Dr. Sadler's statement that "automatic writing" was not involved in The URANTIA Book. McMullan claims that, if the human subject had been a mere channel for spiritual authors, this would have constituted "automatic writing" (2d Dep., pp. 12-13, 16-17). If it was not automatic writing, McMullan claims, then it must have come from the subject himself. It could have been inspired, but the human would have been the author (2d Dep., p. 17).

To support his position that the human subject is the author of The URANTIA Book, McMullan is trying to show that in a previous court case, URANTIA Foundation claimed that the human subject was the author. URANTIA Foundation denies that it has ever asserted that any human being authored the Urantia Papers. In answers to Interrogatories, URANTIA Foundation stated that it would not assert that the personality through whom the material was transmitted, nor any other person, living or dead, was the author of the papers; instead, URANTIA Foundation stated "[t]he personality, through whom the material which constitutes the text of "The URANTIA Book" was transmitted, is considered to be merely a conduit through whom the contents of the papers was transmitted to those who became the proprietors thereof . . . ."

It saddens us that some people are unwilling to accept the validity of the copyright and trademarks and to move forward, united in service to our fellow man, in an effort to spread the truths derived from the book. This seems to have become such an obsession for some that they appear willing to say or do anything to abolish the copyright. We regret the necessity of diverting precious resources from the work before us, but we are resolved to preserve the rights entrusted to URANTIA Foundation.

We appreciate the prayers and support of all those interested in furthering this revelation.

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