Houston -- The Mormon church is trying to shut down the "Mormon Match" dating website under the mistaken belief that the "church has total ownership of the word" Mormon, the site's owner claims in Federal Court.
Jonathan Eller sued Intellectual Reserve Inc., a holding company for the intellectual property of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Eller is the founder of Mormon Match, which owns the website dateamormon.com.
"In short, Jonathan Eller, a Mormon, proposes to run a dating website for Mormons," the complaint states.
"IRI has asserted and continues to assert that trademark law and other intellectual property laws prohibit Jonathan from using the word 'Mormon' to promote, market, or otherwise advertise the dating website."
Eller says his site went live in June 2013 and since then has displayed the "MormonMatch" logo, against a photo of the church's Salt Lake City temple.
The site includes a large photo of Eller, a handsome strong-jawed white man, in a suit and tie next to his greeting: "Let me be the first to welcome you to the future home of Mormon Match! I want you to know that this site is being built by actual LDS singles. Like you, we're a little worried about the lack of local options in our ward, we've already tried the other 'LDS' dating sites (not being built or maintained by LDS peeps) with only battle scars and creepo stories to show for it, and we aren't getting any younger! Even through it seems our prospects are. Eeesh. The truth is, we need your help.
"We need you to share your thoughts and ideas with us about what you want from Mormon Match! We have some really exciting ideas cooking, but we'd really like to hear from you about what you want us to build into the site."
Eller filed a trademark application for "Mormon Match" in June 2013, prompting Intellectual Reserve to commence an opposition proceeding before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board.
Eller says in his lawsuit that after two years of legwork he plans to launch the dating service in a few months.
Because he cannot obtain a restraining order in the trademark board proceeding, he says, he is asking a federal judge to stop Intellectual Reserve from "taking further action to interfere with Mormon Match's operation of the dating website, pending a decision on the merits of this action."
He also seeks a declaration that the church "does not completely own the word 'Mormon,' or all images of Mormon temples for purposes of advertising, promoting, or branding."
He is represented by Siddartha Rao of New York City and Houston attorney Kiernan McAlpine.
The church did not respond to a request for comment.
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