Question: has the word “Mormon” been copyrighted or trademarked in this country? If so, when? And who therefore holds the rights? I’ll be surprised if it’s the LDS church, since Mormon is not and never has been its official name. For a long time, in fact, the church tried to disavow it.
Yet now, asserting that “Mormon” is a brand, lawyers for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have been arguing that Mormon Match, an LDS dating website that tried to launch earlier this month, has no right to use the word in its name.*
The Utah-based church insists it has a claim on the terms “Mormon,” “LDS” and “Latter-day Saint” that supplants anyone else’s right to the terms, but people just keep using them how they want: Warren Jeffs is known as an FLDS leader; people who quit going to church still call themselves Mormon because it’s an accurate cultural descriptor even if it conveys nothing about their religious practice. The church may not like it, but its names are legitimately used as umbrella terms for groups and labels for individuals who don’t pay tithing to Salt Lake.