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Dynamic Chiropractic – February 15, 1991, Vol. 09, Issue 04

Palmer College Threatens Lawsuit to Protect "Fountainhead" Name

By Editorial Staff
The following letter was released by the Palmer College of Chiropractic in order to inform the profession about their efforts to retain the "Fountainhead" name:

January 16, 1991

Certified Mail
Return Receipt Requested

Terry Rondberg, D.C.


The Chiropractic Journal
2950 North Dobson Road, #1
Chandler, Arizona 85224-1802

Dear Dr. Rondberg:

I am sorry that Dr. Holmberg's request that you stop using the term "Fountainhead" and adopt a new theme for your seminars was not accepted in the co-professional spirit with which it was intended.

As president of Palmer College of Chiropractic, charged with protecting its assets, I now make formal demand on you to cease using the term "Fountainhead" on or in association with any enterprise with which you are associated, but most particularly with the so-called FOUNTAINHEAD Seminars and Catalogs sponsored by you and those associated with you.

The matter is not negotiable.

We will expect you to completely terminate all use of the name "Fountainhead" within thirty (30) days of receipt of this letter or appropriate additional action will be taken.

As stated by the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in President & Trustees of Colby College v. Colby College-New Hampshire, 508 F.2d 804 (1st Cir. 1975):

Finally, there is a more important principle, the countervailing policy of preserving individual identities, which must be particularly important in the case of educational institutions serving the public. This is not to be denigrated, as the (lower) court at one point appeared to do, by describing plaintiff's interest, in view of the nature of its enterprise, as "somewhat esoteric" and perhaps based upon "hurt pride." The (lower) court was speaking more to the point when it echoed the almost unanimous expert testimony that "(a) college's identity and image are critical to its survival and growth. (Citations omitted, emphasis added.)

Your lawyers might also find of interest the discussions in University of Georgia Athletic Association v. Laite, 756 F. 2d 1535 (11th Cir. 1985) and Alabama Board of Trustees v. BAMA-Werke Curt Baumann, 231 USPQ 408 (T.T.A.B. 1986).

You have misappropriated Palmer College's widely known and distinctive identification as the "Chiropractic Fountainhead."

I dare say that you have selected the term because you knew that almost every single chiropractor in the land would identify that term with this college. In the event that your lawyers may doubt that simple statement, I am attaching hereto samples showing prominent use of the name Fountainhead by this college for each decade of this century.

  1. 1909 Bulletin of Palmer School of Chiropractic bearing the notation: "Chiropractic's Fountainhead."

     

  2. 1910 Bulletin of the Palmer School of Chiropractic showing the notation: "Chiropractic's Fountainhead."

     

  3. 1911 Bulletin of the Palmer School of Chiropractic showing the notation: "Chiropractic's Fountainhead."

     

  4. 1913 "Fountainhead News."

     

  5. 1918 Bulletin of the Palmer School of Chiropractic showing the notation: "Chiropractic Fountainhead."

     

  6. 1920 Bulletin of the Palmer School of Chiropractic showing the notation: "Chiropractic Fountainhead."

     

  7. 1921 Palmer School of letterhead showing use of the term "Fountainhead."

     

  8. 1922 Bulletin of the Palmer School of Chiropractic showing the notation: "Chiropractic Fountainhead."

     

  9. 1926 Bulletin of the Palmer School of Chiropractic showing the notation: "Chiropractic Fountainhead."

     

  10. 1935 Bulletin of the Palmer School of Chiropractic showing the notation: "Chiropractic Fountainhead."

     

  11. 1940 Bulletin of the Palmer School of Chiropractic showing the notation: "Chiropractic Fountainhead."

     

  12. 1942 "Fountainhead News."

     

  13. 1949 aerial view of the "Chiropractic Fountainhead."

     

  14. 1950 Bulletin of the Palmer School of Chiropractic showing the notation: "Chiropractic Fountainhead."

     

  15. 1960 Bulletin of the Palmer School of Chiropractic showing the notation: "Chiropractic Fountainhead."

     

  16. 1965-66 Bulletin of the Palmer College of Chiropractic showing the notation: "Chiropractic Fountainhead."

     

  17. 1970-72 Bulletin of the Palmer College of Chiropractic showing the notation: "Chiropractic Fountainhead."

     

  18. 1971 Bulletin of the Palmer College of Chiropractic showing the notation: "Chiropractic Fountainhead."

     

  19. 1976 Homecoming at "Chiropractic's Fountainhead."

     

  20. 1979-80 Bulletin of the Palmer College of Chiropractic showing the notation: "Chiropractic Fountainhead."

     

  21. 1980-81 Bulletin of the Palmer College of Chiropractic showing the notation: "Chiropractic Fountainhead."

     

  22. 1980-81 Publication advertising the "Fountainhead" Award.

     

  23. 1982 letter from the Student Homecoming Chairman stating: "Welcome back to the Fountainhead."

     

  24. 1983 mailer advertising Homecoming at the "Chiropractic Fountainhead."

     

  25. 1984 Program for Graduation listing the Palmer College Song with the traditional words: "To the Fountainhead of Healing ..."

     

  26. 1985 Alumni letter stating: "Encourage the future students to seek diplomas from Palmer, the Fountainhead."

     

  27. 1988 Graduation Program showing use of the term "Fountainhead."

     

  28. 1989 Advertisement of the History of Palmer College titled "The Fountain Head."

As most doctors of chiropractic will tell you, Dr. Palmer and his successors used to conduct seminars at the "Fountainhead" under a huge circus tent on the grounds of Palmer College. We understand that you have adopted that format, in addition to misappropriating the "Fountainhead" name.

Your lawyers should also tell you that a non-profit organization has the right to adopt a name by which it will be known and to reap the benefits of the good will it derives under that name. Fort Smith Symphony Orchestra v. Fort Smith Symphony Association, 226 USPQ 719 (Ark. S. Ct. 1985); Metropolitan Opera Association v. Metropolitan Opera Association, 81 F. Supp. 127 (N.D. I11. 1948).

Palmer College, almost at its birth, adopted the identifying name or nickname "Fountainhead." Palmer College has encouraged the use of that identifying name among its thousands of graduates, and it is well recognized by the entire profession as being associated with Palmer College. Chiropractors have complained to us about your use of the name.

I believe that any fair-minded court in the land would find that your adoption of the name was a willful effort to profit from the good will of Palmer College and to take from Palmer College a valuable and respected right.

As stated above, and with deep regret, I call on you to cease all use of the name "Fountainhead" in connection with your seminars, commercially-based or otherwise, no later than February 17, 1991. Please make immediate plans to rename your "Fountainhead" catalog and any other venture associated with the chiropractic profession that uses Palmer's Fountainhead name.

Very Truly Yours,

Donald P. Kern, D.C.
President

DPK:pas

cc: Chiropractic Media
PCC Board of Trustees
PCC Alumni Association Board of Directors
PCC Alumni Association State Presidents

Editor's Note:

It is ironic that on the eve of the centennial of B.J. Palmer's founding of the chiropractic profession, the college which B.J. began should have to file a lawsuit to keep the "Fountainhead" name he gave it. Some have suggested that if enough chiropractors, particularly Palmer Alumni, write the Fountainhead Seminars and express their opinion, the chiropractic profession may be able to avoid the division and embarrassment this kind of legal war would create.


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