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Old 07-19-2004, 01:53 AM   #1 (permalink)
Jon
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Exclamation Important: Al-Anon Forum Members Please Read:

Hi everybody,

You may be wondering why this forum is no longer titled "Al-Anon." I want to be sure you get the facts, and that is the reason for this post.

Last Friday I received a cease and desist order from Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc. through their attorneys, Ostrolenk, Faber, Gerb & Soffen, LLP in New York.

The name "Al-Anon" is a registered "mark", owned by Al-Anon. Also owned by Al-anon is the circle/triangle logo. They have the right to give, or not give, permission to use those marks. Over the years, Al-Anon has taken out many registrations for the AL-ANON Marks with the United States Trademark Office. In other words, Al-Anon has and continues to protect its marks.

So, what did we do wrong? Nothing that can't be fixed.

Let's start with the SoberRecovery Store. Although it's not really a store, and it's not really ours, the store carries various merchandise; mugs, tapes, books, and more stuff with the Al-Anon logo. I had always assumed that the various fellowships made their own stuff that is found at recovery stores. I was wrong. None of the Al-Anon merchandise in our store was licensed. The remedy is that this week, the company that we are partnered with in the store will be removing all merchandise in violation of Al-Anons trademark.

The "Al-Anon" Forum. Most of us made it a point to let people know, whether in posts or PM's, that SoberRecovery was NOT affiliated with Al-Anon, and that our online meetings were NOT official Al-anon meetings. It is Al-Anon's stance that use (mis-use) of the registered mark AL-ANON confuses users into mistakenly believing that Al-Anon is sponsoring the forums or that Al-Anon has approved the forums or that Al-Anon is affiliated with the forums. Our offered remedy is to change the name of the Forum, and to desist from using the name "Al-Anon" in Power Posts, Announcements, or by Moderators or Admins. As individuals/members, YOU have the right to free speech, and can say whatever you want. Keep in mind that this message board is anonymous; chances are high that you’re full name and contact info aren't even in your profile. Besides, the courts have ruled a vast majority of the time that someone wanting to find you for something you said or did on a message board can go pound sand. To clarify-SoberRecovery cannot use the Al-anon name at all; as an individual you can talk and post about your experience in Al-Anon, or lack of experience with Al-anon, anytime you wish.

The Daily Reading. According to their attorneys, the sale of literature is Al-Anons primary income. And that by posting passages from The Courage to Change and other Al-Anon literature, we take away income from Al-Anon that is needed for them to perform their service work. To remedy this demand, we have removed all of the daily readings, and we will work at finding an appropriate daily reading that does not infringe on anyone’s copyright.

Last but not least is the main site at SoberRecovery: Drug Rehab | Drug Addiction Treatment Center | Alcoholism | Addiction Mental Health | Directory Substance Abuse Detox Programs. Being a directory, we have lists of resources in various recovery categories. One of those categories is Al-Anon, and on that page are links to about 30 Al-Anon websites around the World. According to Al-anons attorneys,

"...the home page at SoberRecovery: Drug Rehab | Drug Addiction Treatment Center | Alcoholism | Addiction Mental Health | Directory Substance Abuse Detox Programs lists Al-Anon as a hyperlink at the bottom of the page. Clicking on that link leads to other Al-Anon related links for Information-Help-Support. Such unauthorized use of the Al-ANON name and mark leads to the mistaken impression that Al-Anon has approved the various links or that Al-Anon is associated with the linked web sites. All such unauthorized use of the mark AL-ANON must cease without delay."

Here's where it gets weird. The links and websites on that page ARE associated with Al-anon, and while I have no idea if they were approved or not, the websites all have domains like Anne Arundel CTY AIS (Maryland Al-Anon), Welcome to Dallas Al-Anon Information Service (Dallas Texas Area), and Welcome to the Greater Seattle AIS Website (Seattle Al-Anon). Those sound pretty official to me. The Al-Anon directory in SoberRecovery is simply a list of where and how to find Al-Anon, with Redirect (The Al-Anon and Ala-Teen Official Site) as the first link. On this last item I have no remedy to offer.

Since receiving the letter last Friday I have experienced an entire range of emotions. And I’ve been given a very wide range of advice. If I didn’t take your suggestion, please don’t take it personal. I had to realize that this is not about Al-Anon versus SoberRecovery; it’s about Trademark and Copyright. That understanding made this whole thing a little easier to swallow; even when I can’t help but do the math and calculate how many of your “dollars in the basket� it’s taking to pay the New York Attorneys. And it’s sad that Al-Anon is paying them to tell us to stop fostering a desire to attend Al-Anon.

If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to post them here. You can also reach the Forums Team by email at sr-support@earthlink.net.

And if you would like to get in touch with Al-Anon, you can write or call them at:

Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters
1600 Corporate Landing Parkway
Virginia Beach, Va. 23454-5617

757-563-1600
757-563-1655 (fax)

Email: wso@al-anon.org

Thanks for being here. I’m glad you found us, and I’m glad you stayed.

Jon
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Old 07-19-2004, 04:34 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jon
I had to realize that this is not about Al-Anon versus SoberRecovery; it’s about Trademark and Copyright. That understanding made this whole thing a little easier to swallow; even when I can’t help but do the math and calculate how many of your “dollars in the basket� it’s taking to pay the New York Attorneys. And it’s sad that Al-Anon is paying them to tell us to stop fostering a desire to attend Al-Anon.
Thanks Jon.
For the above, and the contact addresses.
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Old 07-19-2004, 06:24 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Thanks Jon. This is where it helps for me to remember "principles above personalities" or I would want to go and kick 'em right in the shins.

Thanks for all you do. We love you.

Barb
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Old 07-20-2004, 07:06 AM   #4 (permalink)
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I Thought That They...."al-anon" Wanted To Help[b] People!?!?! It Saddens Me That Once Again It Comes Down To The Almighty Dollar. Not About Helping And Caring For Our Fellow Brothers And Sisters.

It Is Something That Will Stick In My Throat!!! To Encourage Spirituality And Seeking Your Higher Power, But I Guess As Always actions Speak Louder Than Words.

Thankfully We Still This Forum Regardless Of What It Is Called.....i Will Have A Hard Time With Out The Daily Readings.....and Many Others That I Share Them With Will Too.

Thank You Jon For The Contact Addresses!!!!
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Old 07-20-2004, 08:02 AM   #5 (permalink)
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I don't know if it could be done but, Melody Beaty has a book of Daily Reading called "the Language of Letting Go" perhaps we could use that one?
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Old 07-20-2004, 11:57 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Hi Jon,
Yes, I was wondering and feeling confused. I will miss the daily readings greatly but maybe we can use what splendra suggested.No matter what.....THANK YOU for all you have done and all that you do all the time for everyone.

A grateful member of a super board,
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Old 07-21-2004, 12:19 AM   #7 (permalink)
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so what you are saying... as a board the officers/administrators/operators of this board can't use the name Al-Anon but me as a member I can say...
Al-Anon
Al-Anon
Al-Anon

as much as I want? *LOL*

It has always been brought to my attention that this board is not assocated with any organization... it has been my understanding that this is a group of kindhearted people just out to help people and that the only reason the term Al Anon is used is because Al Anon works and is a name people know and understand.

Still it is good to know "I" can still say
Al-Anon
Al-Anon
Al-Anon
as much as I want *LOL*
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Old 07-24-2004, 09:33 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by constant
I Thought That They...."al-anon" Wanted To Help[b] People!?!?! It Saddens Me That Once Again It Comes Down To The Almighty Dollar. Not About Helping And Caring For Our Fellow Brothers And Sisters.

It Is Something That Will Stick In My Throat!!! To Encourage Spirituality And Seeking Your Higher Power, But I Guess As Always actions Speak Louder Than Words.

Thankfully We Still This Forum Regardless Of What It Is Called.....i Will Have A Hard Time With Out The Daily Readings.....and Many Others That I Share Them With Will Too.

Thank You Jon For The Contact Addresses!!!!
no, do not feel that way, think again and look at the big picture.. even the people who run this site are doing it for money, and thats ok, money is not evil just the people who use it for evil, are... it takes money to put anything worth while together., aa and non have helped so so many people.. they need to protect themselves now as they are huge,, half the time they principals, do not even see this kind of stuff, there lawyers are on automatic pilot. its just life. thats all..
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Old 07-25-2004, 07:06 AM   #9 (permalink)
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The daily readings were from the books "Courage to Change" and "One Day at A Time" available in bookstores all over, presumably sanctioned by Al Anon. And of course at meetings.

And regarding posting full readings of Melody Beattie on a daily basis we could find ourselves in the same predicament. Her work is copyrighted as well. Again the book is available at bookstores and libraries.

Coming from a strong Al Anon background I am as disappointed as anyone but this falls under one of the things I cannot control...a legal thing only. The principles of how to live your life with integrity are not copyrighted by anyone and they can be found in many ways...not only AA or Al Anon. These programs are situation specific and the fellowship is very valuable. But they are still only one of many ways to reach a valuable goal.

JT
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Old 07-30-2004, 07:18 AM   #10 (permalink)
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For the daily readings problem there is the website hazelden.org and you can find all different daily readings there like the Language of Letting Go for codependents, the Little Black Book for alcoholics, family readings, etc. I have my home page set to the daily reading from the Language of Letting Go so every morning when I get to work I get my daily breath of fresh air and clarity first thing.
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Old 07-31-2004, 12:29 PM   #11 (permalink)
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I think we may have misunderstood this a little.
As far as I can see this it is part of Al-Anon's 12 Traditions that Al-Anon does not affiliate with any outside organisation or other and there is a reason for it. Namely someone who first got in touch with Al-Anon could get a wrong impression of what Al-Anon is all about.
Neither do I think that Al-Anon is money hungry since the books mentioned are pretty cheap and affordable IMO.
I am sad though that I won't be able to read the daily readers because even though I have all the above mentioned books I loved to read them on SR at work just to get back to the sane place in my head when things got difficult.
Anyway I am sure there is a good reason for why Al-Anon does this and I am sure it has more to do with protecting the Al-Anon message than collecting money.
I am very happy that this place exists and I will keep coming to learn from all your wisdom.
Thanx for the great job you're doing and good luck for the future.
Nat
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Old 07-31-2004, 02:05 PM   #12 (permalink)
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I, too was bummed out when this happened. I see these boards as a way to work my 12th Step, carrying the message, and we can still carry the message, we can still talk about Al-anon, we can quote up to a paragrah from the literature, we just can't use the name as the forum title.

But WE know who we are, right, LOL?
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Old 08-18-2004, 03:50 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Couldn't we, as a group, register with the WSO as an "Online Group?" This would allow us to incorporate the Al-Anon name in our group (i.e. The Sober Recovery Online Al-Anon Family Group Forum). We, of course, would have to agree to abide by Al-Anon's traditions and concepts of service as outlined in the Suggested Al-Anon/Alateen Service Manual. This would not allow us to use the daily readings, but, if we asked, we may be able to acquire a limited license to use up to one paragraph of copyrighted material at a time during meetings.

Just a suggestion though, for I do know of other groups out there who have worked through this newest tool of the program that, in my opinion, affects all of us in Al-Anon as a whole.
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Old 08-19-2004, 06:09 AM   #14 (permalink)
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afriend - sounds good to me - i am no expert on this kind of stuff - hopefully someone who is a bit more saavy can reply! i look to this forum as meetings that i could not otherwise get to.

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Old 09-02-2004, 05:08 PM   #15 (permalink)
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I am surprised that al-anon is not considered to be in the public domain. I am an attorney and I have a little trademark experience (it's definitely not my specialty, but I am familiar with the basics). Please let me know if I can help - if so, email me directly.
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Old 09-07-2004, 05:56 PM   #16 (permalink)
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a friend - That is an interesting idea. I wonder what it really takes, and what is required of the "group". I know there is an issue with service, group reps, and being self sufficient. Al-Anon does have a service manual. If there isn't a chapter on "on-line" groups, then maybe some of the SR-longtimers with input from the short-timers could figure out how to make it a positive experiece for both SR & WSO. I suppose there are a mess of details.

Another idea: It certainly would not take the place of a daily reader, but... Al-Anon has a monthly recovery magazine called the Forum. There are some articles that have the disclaimer to use on the internet. I am guessing this little disclaimer would allow the members at SR to use the article. There are usually 2 to 4 per issue. Pretty good magazine over-all.
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Old 09-17-2004, 10:06 AM   #17 (permalink)
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Okay I've thought this over.
I am glad that this is not just an Al-Anon board.
Al-Anon IS an important part of my recovery... but so are Melany Beattie's books and other authors along with SR. If this were an "Al-Anon Forum" we really would only be able to use Al-Anon Confrence Approved Lituratue, which might limit my recovery. ~Just a thought.
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Old 09-28-2004, 10:24 AM   #18 (permalink)
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Jon (& SR Forums Team):
Sad, since this area ALWAYS linked us to Al-Anon; in real time. I'm holding the book, "Lois Remembers" (1979, 1st Printing-I bought it in 1979) in my lap, open to pages 194-195, where Lois, "co founder of Al-Anon and wife of the co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous," states: "But the survival of our "A's" depends on growth-growth in spirit more than in numbers. We believe the principles upon which AA and Al-Anon are founded are fundamental for all time and all people. And yet individual acceptance and applications of these principles must continue to GROW or WE AS SOCIETIES WILL PERISH. FOR STAGNATION IS RETROGRESSION. THERE IS NO STANDING STILL." I don't think this was written in jest or light-heartedly.
(Please note: CAPS are my own). I wonder if these Attorneys have read Lois' book. The world is much different than it was in 1979. (Personal computers, for example. Saving grace for those who can't get out to meetings). Still, I am always reminded at SoberRecovery that I can always return to Al-Anon: AGAIN.
Wondering what Lois would think-doubt she'd like these limitations, but cannot know. Kudos to SoberRecovery (thank you, Jon & Forums Team).
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Last edited by BlueJay; 09-28-2004 at 10:43 AM. Reason: didn't quote correctly
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Old 09-30-2004, 01:44 AM   #19 (permalink)
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I'm not quite sure how to take this but can't this be about realizing how we react to the problems life throws our way? This is indeed a setback the organizers of this site have encountered and now it's up to as all to find our ways to deal with this. Isn't this what all the books and 12 steps are about? Finding our own power and not letting others define us?

Legal scriple is confusing and that's why we have lawyers and even they have trouble understanding the laws


And thank you Jon for giving us this amazing opportunity to take part on this site. It has been and still continues to be a major source of encouragement for me. So I'm staying
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Old 09-30-2004, 05:31 AM   #20 (permalink)
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I respect the Al-Anon program. It was there for me because they held to the traditions. It will be there for many others because of that. I would rather they err on the side of caution than become diluted, and eventually fade away. The first tradition of Al-Anon says, "Our common welfare should come first. Personal progress for the greatest number depends upon unity." In other words, I may not personally like everything that is Al-Anon, but in order for Al-Anon to help the most, I have to sometimes put aside my personal feelings for the good of the group.

"A rose by any other name would still smell as sweet." The name of this board is unimportant. What happens here, the recovery, the resources, the caring is what is important. That doesn't change because of the name. A lot of what is here isn't Al-Anon. Like someone said, Al-Anon is a part of recovery, and very important to me. But here we can be free to talk about that and other experiences that have helped us.

Like the Alcoholism board, this board is open to all means of recovery; counselling, other 12 step groups, even our own unique ways of coping. In Al-Anon we don't discuss these things. Not because they aren't all good things, but because it would dilute the message of Al-Anon.

So our little melting pot here isn't Al-Anon, so it is probably a good thing that we don't call it that. Many people think that Al-Anon is the beginning and end of recovery. Here we can have many more opportunities to explore. Al-Anon is a great tool in recovery, but not the only tool available to us. It has been invaluable to me, but so has counselling, other literature, and tools that I have gained outside of Al-Anon. I am glad that we have this freedom. Hugs, Magic
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