US District Court, Louisville 3:20-CV-0132
Trademarks are sensitive intellectual property, the Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels, Inc. vs Kentucky Colonels International was a US District Court civil case where there were no real winners, we the Defendants needlessly dissolved an organization during the beginning of the case (due to the Plaintiff's aggressive SLAPP action) and the Plaintiff gained their trademarks; however the Plaintiff lost its famous history which the world believed for 80 years as the truth behind the origin of the Kentucky Colonel which emerged through the case, the facts of the HOKC story were demonstrated during the case to be a fabrication and myth developed to harness the imagination of the colonel. As a result of the lawsuit much more has become know about Kentucky colonels and colonelcy in the Americas dating back to the beginning.
HOKC vs KCI (et. al.)
For us there is no great loss, we left a trade name behind and developed a better, more informative website and a book deal as the American Colonels Network, which is now the foremost and most well-known authority on civilian and Kentucky Colonelcy, that does not infringe on anyone's trademarks. Full of hidden facts about Kentucky Colonelcy were only revealed in 2020-2021 as a result of the trademark dispute. The Defense of HOKC v KCI case reintroduced an entirely new factual history dating back to 1775, which has shown that Kentucky colonels were responsible for chartering, creating and naming the state. The previous historical record is one that is based on a tale of a mythical event in 1813 created by the HOKC at a Kentucky Derby eve dinner in 1941 was proven objectively false. The 80 year history of the HOKC was shown to be propaganda based, the account of an "honorary commission 1813 to Charles Todd" was factually disproven and debunked as pseudohistory after over 10 months of litigation.
The Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels has in-fact misled 250,000 colonels, 250 authors, 25 governors and dozens of historians with the Myth of the Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels for over 80 years. In January of 2021, the Commonwealth of Kentucky "determined that the historical record had to be revised with factual information." When presented with the information the Secretary of State, Kentucky Colonel, Michael G. Adams requested an accurate account of the history of Kentucky Colonels in the Commonwealth. See the Secretary of State's Website. Our research has surpassed even the state's account going all the way back to when Col. Daniel Boone blazed the Wilderness Road as the first commissioned colonel pioneer in Kentucky. These updates are based on information discovered in Federal District Court Case 3:20-CV-00132, thus new history.
Kentucky Colonels in Court?
The Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels, Inc. (HOKC) filed a civil suit against Kentucky Colonels International (KCI) for trademark infringement, dilution, cybersquatting, and defamation in a Federal Court in the Western District Court of Kentucky on February 20, 2020. A year later on February 23, 2021 the 2000 page lawsuit was voluntarily dismissed by the HOKC with prejudice by Judge Rebecca Grady Jennings.
HOKC's offensive action resulted in a Temporary Restraining Order on February 25, 2020 which essentially amounted to a "gag order" restricting KCI's rights as a legally constituted body and as US citizens. To continue our non-commercial activities and social programs we changed our name from Kentucky Colonels International (March 2009-February 2020) to Kentucky Colonel Foundation (February 2020).
Then on August 13, 2020, the Honorable Order was granted a Preliminary Injunction against the defense for using the generic term "Kentucky Colonels" as a component of its descriptive trade name or as a descriptive domain name until the case can be concluded to protect the Plaintiff and the public from potentially being confused about the subtle difference in English grammar that gave the HOKC a valid trademark. It was understood the difference between title case and normal case makes or breaks their trademark, using "Kentucky colonels" with a lowercase "c" refers to colonels as people and writing "Kentucky Colonels" with an uppercase "C" refers to the Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels (most of the time).
The Preliminary Injunction prohibited us as Defendants from using our new unincorporated trade name Kentucky Colonel Foundation and prohibited the use of social media handles, usernames and domain names containing the claimed trademarks "KENTUCKY COLONELS®" or "KYCOLONELS". So we agreed to not compete with the Honorable Order unfairly by using either of them and we settled the lawsuit in January 2021 by agreeing to a permanent injunction against the use of their registered trademark(s).
Col. David J. Wright, a primary Defendant said the,"someday the Unheard Defense Pleadings of Kentucky Colonels vs. Kentucky Colonels in a Kentucky Federal Court will form the basis of a story about a Civil Matter that was Settled and Dismissed Before it Could Ever be Heard or Brought to Trial Because of the Embarrassment it Would have Caused for the Plaintiff, Kentucky Colonels and the Commonwealth."
The Colonel also said, "perhaps if it is published as an article by someone, attorneys will gain insight from my legal defense for this type of lawsuit as a pro se defendant, I consider myself the winner of the case and have proven a rich cultural and traditional history of the Commonwealth and its colonels since 1775; today despite their good qualities I view the HOKC as a corporate trademark bully, willing to advantage of its donors and a heartless corporate entity looking to sell products, dominate the minds of colonels and abuse the concept of collective philanthropy."
The nature of being a corporation is often sociopathic, it is to monopolize, control consumerism, grow and dominate the media stream. Although the lawsuit thoroughly discredits the Honorable Order history of the Kentucky Colonel since 1933, the website transparently treats the organization favorably as a well-organized and commendable Kentucky charity serving colonels and the general public since 1957. It should not be held against the Honorable Order that they are a corporate body or uses a sophisticated law firm; the organization is also a Platinum rated charity on GuideStar; but they do deserve to be criticized for not adopting other colonels perspectives, uniting with other like minded organizations, demonstrating transparency, or operating a true membership program that protects its donors as real members and researching history a little better, the information that disproved their original Kentucky Colonel story was found in Kentucky Libraries.
In their Complaint, the HOKC claimed to the Federal Court its organization was in peril, and that it is was a matter of public interest that Kentucky Colonels International and Col. David Wright be stopped from forming a paid membership program or accepting donations, they claimed that only the Federal Court could ´provide them a remedy. Kentucky Colonels International could not respond to the lawsuit or find legal counsel willing to take on a case that had over 500 pages of evidence and allegations pending against it within 10 days of its filing, those who could wanted $50,000-$100,000 to be retained. The HOKC using their influence, the new media and legal savvy they managed to have an "emergency" Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) placed against the Defendants within the first week of the case being filed, with an accelerated hearing on the TRO by the second week.
On August 13, 2020 (6 months into the case) the Court defaulted against all the associated Corporate Defendants and focused upon Col. David J. Wright who was admitted to the case to represent "himself" but not the organizations; in defaulting against the Corporate Defendants Judge Rebecca Grady Jennings placed a Preliminary Injunction against all the Defendants, removing the corporate Defendants. Defendant Wright while the Corporate Defendants were engaged filed to dismiss the case three times and now had to file his own answer to the case or default himself, on August 25, 2020 the Colonel submitted his answer to the Court.
Col. Wright claimed that the HOKC is not the only nonprofit entitled to use the term "Kentucky Colonels" to describe themselves based on its generic character as a term because it belongs to the Public Domain since 1889 or as "component part" of a trade name. He claimed that their actions and activities are based in fraudulently contrived historical accountability, trademark bullying, using a specious copyright, unfair trade name competition and word manipulation to usurp the cultural iconography, customs and tradition of the Commonwealth of Kentucky to propietize "Kentucky colonels" the "people and the idea" to make money licensing their logos and trademarks. "The Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels" is not a company called "Kentucky Colonels" nor are they licensed to do business under the name, but they are owners of six identical trademark(s) "Kentucky Colonels" at the detriment of anyone else that uses the word descriptively to refer to "Kentucky colonels." Even the Court was uneducated about the idea of the Kentucky colonel and was confused, three Judges early in the case had to recuse themselves.
Acting as a pro se defendant, Col. David Wright filed his Answer and Affirmative Defenses on August 25, 2020 and filed a Motion for Judgement on the Pleadings and Memorandum of Support on September 30, 2020, Wright filed a new Motion. Before the Court could hear these filings the case was scheduled for a Status Conference on November 12 before the Federal Magistrate Judge, it was the decision of the Magistrate Judge to schedule a Settlement Conference on December 29. As a result of the conference the case was voluntarily settled by the HOKC before the Court could move forward with Col. Wright's newest filings made in Mid-December of a Motion for Declaratory Judgement and Memorandum in Support to attack the fraudulent, invalid and mistaken trademarks. Col. Wright's Statement of Facts submitted to the court with the motion, offers an entirely different history of the Kentucky Colonel idea.
To settle the lawsuit Col. David Wright agreed to abandon ideas of forming an organization in Kentucky using the trademark, abandon the Kentucky Colonels International trade name, not take donations on any website using the trademark [term], or any of the things for which the "KENTUCKY COLONELS" Mark is designated; he agreed to a modified version of the Preliminary Injunction with an Agreed Permanent Injunction and an Agreed Dismissal Order. Col. Wright agreed to focus on the development of an educational, historical, informational, literary and reference website dedicated to Kentucky Colonelcy under Creative Commons licensing.
Col. David Wright's pleadings tell the whole story and are highly recommended for IP professionals they will find his defense most useful especially in regard to Public Domain, descriptiveness and the use of generic terms as trademarks. His pleadings and this lawsuit changed accepted history of Kentucky Colonelcy in the Americas from the academic perspective.
Understanding our New Name(s)
Our name Commonwealth Colonels represents an authorship group formerly part of Kentucky Colonels International, the name [Commonwealth Colonels] was selected due to a lawsuit filed by The Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels, Inc. (HOKC) with the Federal District Court in February 2020 for trademark infringement following their filing of three applications on February 17, 2020 for trademark protection making a specious claim to the generic and descriptive term [KENTUCKY COLONELS], to capitalize it.
To defend the lawsuit Col. David J. Wright (one of the defendants) performed an in-depth historical investigation and review of Colonelcy in America, we concluded that the factual origins of Kentucky Colonelcy are with the Transylvania Colonels the writers of the Kentucke Magna Charta, colonels from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the Commonwealth of Virginia and the State of North Carolina.
We believe that under our new historical discoveries and objectives there should be no dispute under the court order by removing the word Kentucky from our trade name and replacing it with Commonwealth which also refers to the Great Dominion and Colony of Virginia (Commonwealth of Virginia) and the Supreme Executive Council of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in our own history, makes us less confusing, justifies itself by holding a different comprehensive factual historical account and philosophy to understand, than the proposed fictitious history of the Kentucky Colonel which was propagated by the Honorable Order. As was learned, traditional colonelcy today in Kentucky is based on the ideals of a commonwealth in the (common law) origins of Pennsylvania, Transylvania (Kentucke), Virginia and the American Revolution starting as early as 1775. See more about the history below. (Discover much more on our special History page.)
Previous News Update, December 2020
Between September and December 2020 we found new evidence of impropriety on the part of the Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels that dates back to 1933, 1941 and 1957 which has continued ever since. They are using the lawsuit as a smokescreen to cover up their manipulation of history and the creation of a fraud. Most relevant is that they filed for their trademarks under oath and omitted essential information that would have prevented their consideration as registered marks. We also found that it may have the Governor unwittingly engaged in their impropriety through deference in supporting a third-party licensee which is a for-profit enterprise that does not benefit the charitable mission.
When we performed our research into history we found that the Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels was based on a myth (pseudohistory), the problem with this is that it has been passed off as historical fact. The mythical tale that was created for 1813 was adopted by the Commonwealth, members of the Kentucky Historical Society, independent authors, and newspaper editors.
We are standing firm on our First Amendment rights to freedom of speech, freedom of the press, the right to address grievances to government and the right to assemble peacefully. They have no rights to take our titles and force us to understand or submit to them as a public charity without members. Their legal counsel has overwhelmed the court now with over 1500 pages of documents and exhibits often repetitive and crying foul. The actions that have been taken against us by the Court have been directly caused by the Plaintiff under the color of law.