‘God’s Work’ does not belong to Vatican

Catholic Church loses court battle over the Latin phrase ‘Opus Dei’

Literature lovers gather at Louisiana in August (Photo: Louisiana.dk)
March 18th, 2013 11:26 am| by admin
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On Friday, a Danish court ruled in favour of philosophy-themed card game producer Dema Games regarding its use of the phrase ‘Opus Dei’, which is the name of a conservative Catholic institution founded in 1928 that played a central role in the 2006 bestseller ‘The Da Vinci Code’.

Meaning ‘God’s Work’, the judges ruled that “‘Opus Dei − Existence After Religion’ is so different from the Catholic organisation's mission”, it did not infringe upon any trademark.

The lawsuit began in November 2009 when game producer Mark Rees-Andersen received a letter from Opus Dei’s Spanish division demanding that he remove the phrase from the game and its websites, claiming that the Catholic organisation had exclusive rights to the Opus Dei brand throughout the EU and in several other countries.

When challenged by the Danish patent office, Opus Dei failed to prove that it had previously used the logo. The church then took the case to Sø- og Handelsretten, the Danish court which rules in patent disputes, arguing that Rees-Andersen must have known of the organisation as he had read 'The Da Vinci Code'. In his defence, Rees-Andersen argued that “Opus Dei is a common concept that no-one can claim the rights to, just as you cannot demand exclusive rights to Jesus Christ, God or the Virgin Mary."

The ruling ends over three years of legal wrangling for Rees-Andersen, whose lawyers told media that they believed the real aim of the lawsuit was to ruin him financially. On Friday, the court ordered Opus Dei to pay the defendant's legal fees of 45,000 kroner.

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