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University threatens Nonstop

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Antioch University last week threatened to take legal action against individual Antioch College faculty members who are involved in Nonstop Antioch unless the faculty members agree not to teach in a program that includes ‘Antioch’ in its title.

“As you know, Antioch is a well-established and well-respected business that has developed a reputation based upon its educational services,” Attorney Melanie R. Martin-Jones wrote to individual faculty members, stating that the names Antioch and Antioch College are registered trademarks that are protected by law.

The faculty’s use of the Antioch name in Nonstop Antioch, according to the letter, “is likely to deceive the public with respect to Antioch’s trademarks and associated services and dilute the distinctiveness of the well-known Antioch marks and logos. The unauthorized use of Antioch’s valuable trademarks will cause confusion and improperly benefit you to the detriment of Antioch.”

Seventeen Antioch College faculty members received the letter, from Martin-Jones of the Columbus firm of Porter Wright Morris & Arthur, last Wednesday and Thursday. The letter told them that, to avoid legal ramifications, they needed to give written assurances that they would discontinue all “unauthorized use” of the Antioch mark and logo, no later than Tuesday, April 15.

Nonstop Antioch is a new effort by a group of college faculty, staff and students to keep the college going even after it closes on June 30, if it does close. The faculty had planned to offer college courses in venues off campus, and were working to find ways to house students in local homes. An article about Nonstop Antioch was printed in last week’s News.
On Tuesday, Antioch College faculty lawyer Evan Price of Columbus wrote a response to the university attorney, stating that faculty members, “in the spirit of cooperation,” agreed not to offer classes using the name Nonstop Antioch.

“The faculty is not conceding that they shouldn’t operate under that name, but they are agreeing not to,” Price said in an interview Tuesday. “They have a good argument that they are the faculty and should use that name, but given the available resources, they believe that this is not a fight they want to have. Apparently the university is willing to have this fight notwithstanding its financial troubles.”

According to Ellen Borgersen, acting president of the college’s alumni College Revival Fund, which had pledged $1 million to the Nonstop Antioch effort, Nonstop Antioch will continue as an advocacy group but will not, at this point, offer educational services. The scope and direction of Nonstop Antioch is “a work in progress,” she said, and faculty, staff, students and alumni are continuing to define it.

Reached by phone on Monday, Martin-Jones stated that she has no comment on the case. Antioch Unversity Chancellor Toni Murdock and Board Chair Art Zucker chose not to comment due to an information “embargo” this week about the college situation due to the upcoming meeting between the university trustees and the Antioch College Continuation Corporation, according to university spokesperson Lynda Sirk this week.

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