California Court of Appeal nixes '.com' name change request Activist is dedicated to promoting legalization of marijuana

By Pat Murphy

The Daily Record Newswire

BOSTON, MA -- The name "Robert Edward Forchion Jr." sounds like a perfectly good name. In fact, it sounds mighty impressive. Why, someone may be tempted to invest in pork-belly futures with someone named Robert Edward Forchion Jr.

So why would the real Robert Edward Forchion Jr. want to change his legal name to "NJweedman.com"?

Well, that's a long story that involves one man's life-long advocacy for the acceptance and legalization of marijuana.

Forchion is a resident of New Jersey. A well-known activist, he has devoted his adult life to promoting the legalization of marijuana. Unfortunately, Forchion's passion for marijuana has been thwarted by the harsh realities of New Jersey's criminal code.

In 2000, he was convicted in New Jersey of various marijuana offenses. And Forchion is currently facing trial in New Jersey on marijuana charges arising out of an arrest on April 1, 2010.

Looking for greener pastures, in 2009 Forchion opened a Rastafarian temple on Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles. There he has managed and operated a medical marijuana dispensary under the cover of the California Compassionate Use Act.

To his fellow activists across the country, Forchion goes by the nickname "NJweedman." It naturally followed that he started a marijuana advocacy website, NJweedman.com.

Ever casting about for the limelight, Forchion came up with the novel idea of changing his legal name to "NJweedman.com." In 2001, the New Jersey courts were the first to deal with a Forchion name-change petition. Those courts rejected his request flat out.

Thinking he might fare better on the West Coast, in 2010 Forchion filed a petition to change his name in the Los Angeles County Superior Court.

That court disappointed Forchion by refusing to change his name to NJweedman.com.

Yesterday, the California Court of Appeal affirmed that decision, finding a plethora of reasons for refusing Forchion's request to change his legal name to the name of his website.

First, the court found a problem with the simple fact that there is no guarantee that Forchion will always maintain the rights to his website.

"A statutory name change to NJweedman.com would last indefinitely," the court explained. "But Forchion might lose the use of his website by failing to make periodic registration payments or by breaching the registration agreement. In that event, the website name (NJweedman.com) could be registered to someone else and, at the same time, Forchion could keep his new personal name (NJweedman.com). If both parties used that name to conduct business, confusion might result."

This brought up the troublesome issue of trademark rights.

The state appeals court said that "even if Forchion were allowed to adopt NJweedman.com as his personal name, and he properly maintained it as the name of his website, the name might be so similar to another website name or trademark that the multiple usage would create confusion."

Then, too, was Forchion's alleged advocacy of actions that break illegal drug laws.

The court said that "the name change would associate Forchion's new personal name with the website's advice that individuals violate the law in several respects. A name change should not have that consequence."

Finally, there was the issue of respecting the decisions of the courts of a sister state.

"[G]iven Forchion's strong ties to New Jersey and his failed attempt in 2001 to obtain the same name change there, we conclude that, as a matter of comity, California should not grant Forchion the relief his home state has already considered and denied," the court said. (In re Forchion)

Published: Tue, Sep 6, 2011

Comments

  1. No comments
Sign in to post a comment »