This is truly weird, and I have had some experience with intellectual property in multiple jurisdictions.
We have a situation where one part of the church has been placing orders for product which incorporates the logo and another part of the church saying that the one part, say the local conference, is not authorised to do so.
There is no evidence that the logos have been used by the purchasers in anything other than a lawful way; a way that was envisaged when the logos were created.
The logos were never created for financial purposes. They were created for missional purposes. And the sub-parts of the church have been sourcing these at arguably the cheapest possible cost.
Plenty of businesses will own logos, and get others to produce the goods. Take Nike as an example. They outsource to manufacturers in China, but all the product comes back to Nike to sell. Likewise with these pathfinder logos - different authorised parts of the church order the product from an outsourced manufacturer, and it all comes back to the church to use.
Truly weird. But then, weird begets weird.
Post thought 1: In the event that some unions break away from the GC, the GC would want to prevent them from using intellectual property. To prevent them, the GC needs to prove that it properly owns it. This may be a preemptive strike.
Post thought 2: Thanks Vandieman for your comment. I have endeavoured to do cut and paste, but am on iPad and to dense to work it out.
I have done some research on your comment, and think that where the church may be feeling exposed is in the concepts of inurement and private benefit. Have waded through 52 pages of IRS commentary. I am not yet an expert, but I may be better informed than many.
For inurement to arise, the individuals need to be benefitting from an agreement with the owner of the intellectual property. The individuals also need to be an intrinsic part of the organisation. The problems arise in that there is no agreement, and it is uncertain that the church has good ownership of the brands. Also, the individuals, having arisen no further than a position on the conference executive committee, let alone union, division or gc level, would not be intrinsic to the organisation. At the private benefit level, the supplies are being provided under normal commercial terms. (Some assumptions are being made here). I struggle to see that the gc is at risk of losing its tax exempt status.
There are any number of nuances, and we don’t know precisely on what basis the case is being fought. It will be interesting to see how this develops.