Your name is important. It not only tells people who you are so that they might know you; it also represents your credibility and your character. Your name brings with it all kinds of associations and resources.
That is why identity theft is such a problem. Criminals steal people’s names in order to steal their life savings, but victims lose much more than their money. Credit is ruined, reputations are tarnished and a sense of self is violated. We have birth certificates, driver’s licenses, passports, all issued to safeguard our names, our identity. The Internet has made these safeguards more vulnerable and more valuable.
Organizations value their names just as individuals do. Names are just as necessary for them to function in society, to build and maintain trust. The government allows organizations to protect their names through trademarks. An organization’s name and trademark can be its most valuable asset and is worth protecting at great cost.
We certainly feel that way about our name, Jews for Jesus. It communicates something, not only about us, but about Him. When people hear the name Jews for Jesus they may not agree with what we do or what we believe—but there isn’t much confusion about who we are and most important, who we are for.
Even though Jews for Jesus is a registered trademark, we have been forced to defend our name many times. When I became the executive director of Jews for Jesus I received a distressing phone call from one of our supporters. This person had been searching for us on the Internet and went to www.jewsforjesus.org only to find a site that was anti-Jesus and anti-Jews for Jesus. (At the time our website was www.jews-for-jesus.org.) A Mr. Brodsky, who was not part of Jews for Jesus, had appropriated our name and was using it against us and against Jesus in a way that confused the public about his connection to Jews for Jesus.
We received many phone calls, emails and notes over the next weeks and months. People didn’t know what to think—some wondered if we had apostatized. It was very upsetting to them and to us. While we were able to explain what happened to those who called, we know that for everyone who called there were many more who saw the site and did not call. After several failed attempts to get Mr. Brodsky to give us our name back and after appealing in vain to his Internet service provider, we were forced to go to court to take back our name and secure our identity. We won a unanimous victory in Federal Court and in the Appellate Court. The media made a big deal out of it because our case set precedent in Internet law.
We were just thankful to have control of our name back. We are thankful that God established governments long ago to protect people’s rights and to help resolve disputes that can’t be resolved in any other way. Remember that the apostle Paul appealed to Caesar, insisting on his own legal rights in a court of law. (Acts 25:11)
Unfortunately, we find that once again we are a victim of identity theft on the Internet. This time it is in regard to a blog” (short for weblog, which is a kind of website) that is an increasingly popular way of electronic communication. “Blogging” refers to the posting of information, discussions and commerce that occurs on a weblog. A substantial amount of blogging occurs at an Internet domain (location) called “blogspot” which is owned and operated by Google. Someone who calls himself “Whistleblower” has started a blog entitled “Jews for Jesus.” It is being hosted by Google on their computer systems at jewsforjesus.blogspot.com, the Internet address created by Google for “Whistleblower.” “Whistleblower” is not affiliated with or authorized by Jews for Jesus, and he has posted material inconsistent with Jews for Jesus’ mission on that site.
We discovered this problem while exploring ways to use blogs to tell people about Jesus. We were surprised to see that someone had taken our name, and we wrote to “Whistleblower” asking that he give us our name back. He refused. We asked Google to help us. Since they own the blogspot site and control the use of the “jewsforjesus.blogspot.com” Internet address they have every right to require “Whistleblower” to relinquish our name and post his blogs under another name. They refused to help us. Once again we have been forced to turn to the courts to defend our name, our trademark and our ability to carry out our mission and ministry.
Thus the headlines, “Jews for Jesus Sues Google” a few weeks ago. Frankly, we’d rather not sue Google. But we simply have no choice. This lawsuit is not about trying to stop misguided people from saying bad things about Jews for Jesus; it is about preventing Google from exploiting our name and reputation for commercial purposes and preventing unauthorized third parties from using our name to promote their own agenda in a manner designed to confuse the public.
If we chose not to defend our name in this instance, it could be alleged in future cases that our trademark is weakened because we didn’t care enough to defend it. We are not suing for big money as some have insinuated; our protection of the Jews for Jesus name will likely come at a substantial legal cost, whatever the eventual recovery. We simply need to be able to control the use of our name and trademark. We cannot allow others to hijack our identity. We hope that Google will allow us to establish an authorized blog at the address incorporating our exact trademark. If not, however, we must at least make sure that nobody else is allowed to do so. Why don’t we sue Whistleblower? We may. That is a strategy that we trust our legal representatives to determine. (The same folks who won the previous case are helping us now.)
Why am I telling you this? I want our friends to hear about what we are doing from us instead of relying on the press or our opponents to inform (or misinform) you.
I am also telling you about this so that you can pray for us. We view this as a spiritual attack coming at a sensitive time in our ministry. We are headed into our largest evangelistic campaign ever this summer. I guess it’s “par for the course” that we find some of our energy and resources being tapped. I am sure that Satan as well as our earthly opponents would like to discourage us just as they would like to see our trademark misused by others to spread negativity, lies and confusion under our name—a name that exists to make the name of Jesus known. We need your prayers to help us through this spiritual warfare.
I hesitate to ask you for financial help. We cannot afford to divert any funds that go for our regular missionary support. And RealTime is not usually the vehicle that we use to ask for special financial help. But if some of our readers understand the importance of this battle and are able to give a little extra to help at this time we will certainly be grateful. If that is you, you can click on this link.
Moishe Rosen has a saying: “every knock is a boost.” I believe that is true. I have seen proof of it many many times. Please join me in praying that this knock will also become a boost, not so much for us, but for the Lord and for His gospel.