As attention to building and maintaining good marriages has grown over the past decade, there have been many groups and organizations attempting to provide various resources to couples in need of help. Unfortunately, some have created names for themselves without adequately looking into the legality of their choice. This places us in the awkward position of being the messenger of this fact.

Our dilemma is that we have been made aware of a few groups who have been using our registered mark, Marriage Builders®, illegally. Unintentional as it may be, it still poses a problem.

Ive explained a few components of the issue below in an attempt to answer some questions weve received lately. If you should have any further questions regarding this issue, feel free to email us at

Q: Is the mark and use of the mark "Marriage Builders" federally registered?

A: Yes. Marriage Builders® (Registration # 2477784) has been federally registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Marriage Builders, Inc. and represents a specific approach to helping couples learn to fall in love and stay in love.

Q: What approach does Marriage Builders® represent?

A: The Marriage Builders® approach includes the exclusive use of concepts such as Love Bank, emotional needs (as described by Dr. Harley), Love Busters, etc. (Refer to the Basic Concepts section of the Marriage Builders® web site for a complete description of these and other Marriage Builders® concepts.)

Q: Why did you reserve the right to use the Marriage Builders® mark?

A: Back in the early 1970s, Dr. Willard F. Harley, Jr. began developing a then very unique approach to helping couples avoid divorce, which was becoming an epidemic. His experience in working with couples led him to realizations about what works and what doesnt and then to creating concepts which represented those realizations.

In 1976, Dr. Harley created Marriage Builders Incorporated. It was an entity that existed in conjunction with Harley Clinics of Minnesota. Where Harley Clinics was more for individual counseling, Marriage Builders, Inc. was for marriage counseling. In an attempt to help couples understand what they were being taught, Dr. Harley wanted to make sure that there was no confusion about who was using his marriage building approach and who wasnt. To accomplish this, he reserved the rights to mark Marriage Builders®.

Q: What if my organization or group is currently using Marriage Builders® in its name?

A: Technically, the organization or group is in violation of United States of America trademark law and must stop using it immediately. Although breaking the law is a serious stand-alone issue, to be honest with you, my biggest concern is that it will create confusion. Unless your group is exclusively using the Marriage Builders® approach to help couples, you are creating confusion as to exactly what the title of the group represents.

It would be like calling your group Marriage Savers, but dont believe that mentoring is an important element of working with couples. Or using a name like PREP Marriage Group and arguing that developing effective communication skills is overrated. Its not a question of whether the beliefs of those groups are right or wrong; its that the name of those groups do not match the association they are claiming to represent by using a trademark. (Marriage Savers is a registered trademark of Marriage Savers, Incorporated. PREP is a registered trademark of PREP Incorporated.)

If your group is exclusively using the Marriage Builders® approach to helping couples, then you need to get written permission from Marriage Builders, Incorporated to have "Marriage Builders®" as part of your name.

Q: A leader of my organization mentioned that Marriage Builders Incorporated hasnt asked the organization to stop using the name. So, he figured that he can keep using the name until notified in writing. Is that true?

A: If you travel 65 mph in a 55 mph zone, but dont get caught by the police, are you breaking the law? You need to ask your leader whether or not the organizations use of the name is truly legal. Of course, the answer will be no. Its that simple.


If you have any questions about this issue, feel free to call, email, or mail us.


Marriage Builders, Inc. 12568 Ethan Avenue St. Paul, Minnesota 55110

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