The national headquarters of the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity has threatened to sue APES members if they do not cease using the fraternity’s trademark name by Feb. 10.
Marc Katz, counsel to the AEPi national office, instructed members of the unrecognized fraternity on Tuesday to stop using the federally registered trademark of AEPi’s name immediately and requested a confirmation by Feb. 10. If APES fails to stop using the name, the national headquarters could file a lawsuit for the violation of trademark law.
The threat was prompted by an APES statement in the Jan. 22 issue of the Wheel
, asking to be referred to as the “former brothers of the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity.”
“[APES members] are not able to use those marks and by using those marks without the fraternity’s authority, they’d be in violation of the trademark law,” Katz said.
APES formed in 1994 after AEPi lost University recognition. Although AEPi returned to campus in 2000, APES remained an unofficial fraternity at Emory. APES is not affiliated with the national AEPi organization.
The national office was alerted of the article and the executive director of AEPi headquarters, Andrew Borans, contacted Katz within two days after the article was published.
Neither Borans nor APES members responded to repeated requests for comment.
Dean of Students Bridget Riordan said AEPi’s national office has wanted to take legal action for the past 10 years. But the office did not know which students were involved with APES until two members identified themselves in a Wheel article written in November, she said.
The national office’s requests for names of APES members have been declined in the past by the University because the information is private, Riordan said, adding that the University has no role in legal matters between the national AEPi and members of APES.
“We let [students] keep their private affairs private,” Riordan said.
Zachary Allen, president of Emory’s chapter of AEPi, said the chapter is not involved in the conflict.
“The recognized Epsilon chapter has not been consulted and the national fraternity is acting independently,” Allen said.
In the past, some APES members have printed T-shirts with the AEPi logo. People claiming to be members of APES have also referred to APES as “the real AEPi” on online discussion boards.
Carolyn Livingston, special assistant to the senior vice president and dean for campus life, said the students who are involved in the legal conflict are not in violation of the Undergraduate Code of Conduct because the copyright is not a matter of University jurisdiction.
Just as students would defend themselves for a traffic violation, Livingston said, the students in conflict with AEPi need to hire their own lawyers in their defense.
The conduct code was recently revised to prohibit participation in or residing in housing affiliated with banned organizations like APES. According to Livingston and Jonathan Zerulik, interim assistant dean and director of student conduct, the revision addresses safety concerns raised by students, parents and members of the Emory community.
— Contact Michelle Ye Hee Lee.