HISTORICAL OVERVIEW: OKINAWA KENPO
AND THE FEDERAL TRADEMARK ISSUE
This article is presented as Historic Overview for the Martial Arts Community. The actions described herein occured during the mid 1980's
The Okinawa Kenpo system is somewhat unique in that it is the only system to have undegrone a lengthy Federal Court Action over the Trademarking of the "OKINAWA KENPO" system namThis section of the IKKF Web Page is presented to document the actions that initiated the litagation and the ultimate outcome of the Federal Court Action.
On February 19, 1985, Mr. Teruyuki Higa, a resident of New York secured the Principal Registery of the Service Mark "Okinawa Kenpo Karate School". A copy of the CERTIFICATE OF REGISTRATION is presented as Attachment 1 herein (Registration No. 1,321,298). As part of the protection of the Service Mark, Mr. Higa announced in various Martial Arts Publications that anyone using the name "Okinawa Kenpo" had to either be certified under Mr. Higa or had to stop using the name "Okinawa Kenpo". At this time, Mr. Higa was the U.S. Representative for the OKINAWA KENPO KARATE-DO ASSOCIATION, headed by Taketo Nakamura, Okinawa, Japan.
Subsequently, Mr. Higa initiated legal action against Mr. C. Bruce Heilman in his position then as the U.S. Representative for the OKINAWA KENPO KARATE KOBUDO FEDERATION, headed by Seikichi Odo, Okinawa, Japan. The lawsuit had very significant implications over the registration / use of the name of a traditional system of Okinawan Karate. Mr. Heilman after discussions with Seikichi Odo and other seniors within the OKKKF, made the decision to contest the legal action and a counter suit was initiated by Mr. Heilman against Mr. Higa in an attempt to protect the legitimate rights to use the system name by its legitimate practitioners and to prohibit similar such "power plays" from occuring in other traditional systems in the States if Mr. Higa would have prevailed in his action.
It was never Seikichi Odo's or Mr. Heilman's intent to prohibit Mr. Higa from using the "Okinawa Kenpo" name, as he was / is an authentic practitioner of the system. However, by fighting Mr. Higa in Federal Court, the intent was to be able to protect our own rights as well as those of other authentic traditional practitioners of the Okinawa Kenpo system who may not have been associated with either Master Odo's OKKKF or Master Nakamura's OKKA. a handfull of other legitimate Okinawa Kenpo organizations also existed (although primarily limited to Okinawa) who also had the legitimate right to use the system name. These organizations included Seijiro Maehara and his Okinawa Kenpo Karate Kobudo League Kenburyu, Kanichi Kinjo and his Okinawa Kenpo Ryu Sei Kan Karate-do Kyokai, among others.
After a lengthy and court fight, on August 25, 1986 an an Out-Of-Court Settlement was reached between the two parties of the litigation, Messrs. Higa and Heilman resolving their differences for the betterment and growth of the Okinawa Kenpo system. The Formal Agreement was approved and signed by both parties and entered into the Official Court Record. A copy of the cover page of the Agreement is presented as Attachment 2. As part of the Settlement Agreement, a Official News Release was prepared and signed by both parties which was released to various martial arts publications as well as mailed to most major martial arts organizations at that time. A copy of this OFFICIAL NEWS RELEASE is included as Attachment 3 to this discussion.
The key points involved in the resolution of the legal action with respect to the Federal Trademark were as follows:
o Concurrent Use Of Mark:
Messrs. Higa and Heilman shall have concurrent usage of the terms "Okinawa Kenpo", "Okinawa Kenpo Karate", and "Okinawa Kenpo Karate-Do".
o Exclusive Rights Of Higa:
Mr. Higa shall have exclusive rights to the mark "Okinawa Kenpo Karate School".
o Exclusive Rights Of Heilman:
Mr. Heilman shall have exclusive rights to the terms "Okinawa Kenpo Karate Kobudo", "Okinawa Kenpo Karate Kobudo Federation", and "Okinawa Kenpo Karate Kobudo Shudokan". Additionally the OKKKF and the "Hurricane" Patches were also included under the protection of the agreement with the rights assigned to Heilman.
o Rights of Other Legitimate Practitioners:
One of the key components of the Agreement was the inclusion of a provision by Mr. Heilman which also provided protection of name usage rights to those individuals who are legitimate practitioners of the Okinawa Kenpo system although they may not be affiliated to either of the two parties of the Agreement, but were /are members of a recognized Okinawa Kenpo Association / Group with direct lineage to Shigeru Nakamura and / or have their Teachers License from said group and now may be independent. In these situations, these individuals would also enjoy use rights.
Subsequent Actions By Heilman:
After the INTERNATIONAL KARATE KOBUDO FEDERATION was established by Mr. Heilman in 1991 as an Affiliated Organization to the OKKKF, Mr. Heilman sent a Notarized Letter to Seikichi Odo turning over the rights to the terms "Okinawa Kenpo Karate Kobudo Federation", "Okinawa Kenpo Karate Kobudo Shudokan" and the "OKKKF Patch" for exclusive use of Master Odo, the OKKKF and its members.
In 1996 Mr. Heilman made the decision to terminate the formal affiliation of the IKKF to the OKKKF. As a result of numerous OKKKF administrative reorganizations, it became necessary to again send a document to the OKKKF addressing the rights to the OKKKF name and patch. This document was again sent to Mr. David James, OKKKF Coordinator on October 27, 1997, with a copy to Mr. Butch Spain, Okinawa. A copy of this document is presented herein as Attachment 4
Notwithstanding the reiteration of the OKKKF Name rights to the OKKKF, Mr. Heilman still maintains his rights to the balance of the other Okinawa Kenpo concurrent and exclusive marks granted to him under the 1986 Settlement Agreement. Mr. Heilman also owns the Trademarks for the "International Karate Kobudo Federation", "Okinawa Kenpo Karate Kobudo Koryukan", and "Okinawa Kenpo Karate Kobudo Union".