Robert P. Schuster, P.C., successfully defended a health and nutrition website from charges that its content violated copyright and trademark laws. The website—nationally prominent for its discussion of health and nutrition issues—included explanations of what has become known as the biologic theory of ionization (RBTI). That theory was developed in the past century by a biochemist, Dr. Carey Reams, who advocated re-mineralizing soils, avoiding pesticides, and conforming diet to certain biochemical markers such as ph levels. His theories were widely disseminated before his death in the mid-1980’s and currently can be found throughout the internet.
A third party blogger quite amazingly accused the nutrition website of copyright infringement and trademark violations for its reference to Dr. Reams and his theories. As baseless as the claims were, they nevertheless illustrated basic principles of both of those areas of intellectual property law. One cannot copyright that which is in the public domain nor does copyright protection purport to extend to the statement of an idea. Instead, our copyright system is designed to protect expression. The blogger had no standing to assert any violation and did not have—nor could he have ever obtained—any trademark in regard to the theories developed by Dr. Reams. Reminded that federal copyright law allows a court to award attorney fees to the prevailing party in an infringement action, the blogger and his attorney retreated and faded away.