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The Church of Scientology has said it will appeal against a decision by a Russian court to close its Moscow branch, describing the ruling as a “disease of the justice system”.
In a statement sent to WIPR, the church said it will appeal against the decision to the country’s Supreme Court.
On Tuesday, November 24, the Moscow City Court backed calls from Russia’s Ministry of Justice to close the church after accepting the department’s argument that the church cannot call itself a religious organisation if it owns a registered trademark.
The church owns several registered trademarks for variations of the word Scientology, including at the US Patent and Trademark Office. The US trademarks were the subject of the justice department’s complaint.
The ruling by the court, the city’s highest, came after a lower court dismissed the church’s appeal against the government’s decision to not register it as a religious organisation.
“When decisions like this are handed down, actually everyone loses, and this decision affects not only the Church of Scientology of Moscow; this decision is a sign of disease of the justice system,” the church said.
The church told WIPR that the Moscow branch had submitted “substantial evidence” from trademark experts, as well as examples of other religion-related trademarks that had been registered around the world, to support its case.
“These included ‘Evangelical Christians’, ‘Seventh Day Adventists’, ‘Mennonites’ and others.
“It is simply absurd and discriminatory to deny registration on this ground when such trademarks are accepted by governments internationally,” the church added.
The church was created by science fiction writer L Ron Hubbard in the 1950s and is based in Los Angeles, California. Its followers include Hollywood actors Tom Cruise and John Travolta.
Scientology, trademark, USPTO, US Patent and Trademark Office, Moscow City Court