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NLP Comprehensive's Response
To: The NLP Community
From: Steve & Connirae Andreas, Lara Ewing
Date: June 16, 1997
After many years of threats, Richard Bandler has filed a lawsuit naming
twelve individuals and entities and 200 "Does" (names to be filled in
later). This suit is vitally important to the NLP Community because Richard
is basically (retroactively) claiming sole ownership of the entire field;
if he continues his current actions, it is likely that all prominent
individuals in the field will eventually be sued.
This document is to present you with basic information:
1. What has happened thus far?
2. What are the legal issues?
3. What do we do about it?
If you have any ideas about how to transform this potentially difficult and
divisive situation into something that is a positive opportunity for growth
and connection for us all (including one of our mentors, Richard Bandler),
please bring them forward. Please send blessings, love, light/sound to this
Situation and all of us involved.
What the Suit is About:
Although there are a number of issues, and different issues apply to
different named defendants, basically Bandler is asserting ownership of the
Society of NLP, and through that ownership of the intellectual property
known as NLP, and the exclusive right to market NLP and certify at all
levels of NLP training. This is consistent with his published statements in
recent years. In the back of Persuasion Engineering, Bandler asserts that
the Society of Neuro-Linguistic Programming is trademarked and is the only
organization that can legitimately certify in NLP. Anyone not certified
through the society is described as follows: "Either the person and/or
organization is defrauding the public, or they have been defrauded
themselves by another organization purporting to be a certifying
The "certification and license agreement" that Bandler has been requiring
all his training participants to sign since sometime in 1991 or 1992 begins
with the following:
"This Agreement is made with reference to the following facts:
1. The Licensor owns all right, title and interest in the copyrighted and
trademarked intellectual property known as NLP(TM)/Neuro-Linguistic
Programming(TM) and Design Human Engineering(TM)."
Bandler's suit includes a variety of issues, which can be sorted into three
1. Trademark infringement: The seal of the society is trademarked; NLP is
not trademarked, but Richard is alleging trademark rights.
2. Intellectual property ownership of NLP: Broad rights to teach, license,
market, merchandise and certify in NLP.
3. "Conspiratorial tortious interference" with Richard's entitlements and
economic advantage deriving from his alleged rights.
A fourth issue involves only John Grinder, regarding an agreement with
Richard signed in 1981.
What Bandler Wants:
The total damages sought by Bandler amount to "no less than"(!) 90 million
dollars PER INDIVIDUAL SUED." He is further asking for a permanent
injunction preventing anyone from:
"a. Participating in any manner in any presentation to any member of the
public where the subject matter involves, arises out of, or relates to,
the training and certification of NLP;
b. Sponsoring, producing, or otherwise arranging for NLP programs;
c. Certifying other individuals as NLP practitioners, trainers or in any
other NLP designation;
d. Issuing NLP certificates;
e. Misrepresenting expressly or by implication that an NLP program is
being given under the auspices or with the approval of plaintiff
BANDLER or the SOCIETY;" etc.!
Our legal advice, from highly-qualified intellectual property lawyers, is
that we are in good legal standing. We also believe we have made fair
agreements with Richard over the years, and know that our collaborative
efforts have resulted in substantial income for him. However, lawsuits are
costly and tedious. Our response to this suit is estimated to cost us
approximately $30,000. John Grinder's expenses will likely be about $35,000
to $50,000. Others who may be served with this same suit in the future may
wish to join our suit and share expenses. Our lawyers are doing work
that should ultimately save the rest of the NLP Community a lot of hassle
We do not hold any ill will toward Richard Bandler, but we will defend
ourselves vigorously against this suit which we believe has no basis, and
which affects the entire NLP Community and the public we serve.