Scientology removes E-Meter auctions from eBay

Ex-Scientologists who try to offload their expensive E-Meters via eBay soon find their auctions yanked — by the Church of Scientology.

It does so without any interaction with — or intervention by — eBay.

Lawyer Scott Pilutik explains:

The mechanism that permits the Church of Scientology (and others) such broad access and discretion is called the Verified Rights Owner (“VeRO“) Program. Membership in VeRO is obtained simply by submitting a form to eBay explaining that you are an Intellectual Property rights holder.

In an entry on his blog, Reality Based Community, Pilutik says that while it “should come as little surprise that VeRo members routinely overreach,” the VeRo program does make a great deal of sense for companies faced with trademark violations, such as counterfeith Rolexes and Gucci bags.

He then points out:

But Bill’s e-meters (and the e-meters other ex-Scientologists have attempted to sell on eBay) are not counterfeits and do not violate the Church of Scientology’s trademarks, patents, or copyrights. Some sellers have even included the serial number found at the bottom of each e-meter in their listings in order to authenticate them. There is no source confusion, as every seller whose e-meters have been removed have made it clear that they took the photo of the e-meter, and that they are not affiliated with the Church of Scientology. Patent law doesn’t prevent the resale of patented items, and patent law barely covers e-meters anyway, the first having run out years ago and the 2000 patent only covering “improvements” on the “Quantum” e-meter. And copyright law barely applies here—all of the listings I’ve observed have been originally written, for one thing, and regardless, Scientology (from what I can gather) has only issued VeRO complaints under patent and trademark bases.

In short, the Church of Scientology is at least constructively aware that the e-meters being listed on eBay are authentic, and so have no basis under trademark—or under any other intellectual property basis, for removing these listings. What’s actually going on here is that Scientology is abusing eBay’s VeRO program, knowingly alleging Intellectual Property violations that clearly don’t exist, so that they can limit the secondary market for e-Meters, controlling both the price and who can get them.
– Source: Scientology abuses eBay’s VeRO program to practice religious, price discrimination, Reality Based Community, Feb. 18, 2008

The Church of Scientology says its E-Meter is “a religious artifact and can only be used by Scientology ministers or ministers-in-training. It does not diagnose or cure anything. It measures the mental state or change of state of a person and thus is of benefit to the auditor in helping the preclear locate areas to be handled.”

E-Meters come in various models, which cost from a few hundreds to a few thousand dollars each. [Here’s a screenshot of one model auctioning at a starting bid of $3,200.00]. The devices, which are part and parcel of Scientology’s so-called religious practices, were introduced by the cult’s founder, L. Ron Hubbard.

Hubbard wrote one of Scientology’s sacred texts, Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health, in 1950. In it he introduced a crude psychotherapeutic technique he called “auditing.” He also created a simplified lie detector (called an “E-meter”) that was designed to measure electrical changes In the skin while subjects discussed intimate details of their past. Hubbard argued that unhappiness sprang from mental aberrations (or “engrams”) caused by early traumas. Counseling sessions with the E-meter, he claimed, could knock out the engrams, cure blindness and even improve a person’s intelligence and appearance.

Hubbard kept adding steps, each more costly, for his followers to climb. In the 1960s the guru decreed that humans are made of clusters of spirits (or “thetans”) who were banished to earth some 75 million years ago by a cruel galactic ruler named Xenu. Naturally, those thetans had to be audited.

An Internal Revenue Service ruling in 1967 stripped Scientology’s mother church of its tax-exempt status. A federal court ruled in 1971 that Hubbard’s medical claims were bogus and that E-meter auditing could no longer be called a scientific treatment. Hubbard responded by going fully religious, seeking First Amendment protection for Scientology’s strange rites. His counselors started sporting clerical collars. Chapels were built, franchises became “missions, ” fees became “fixed donations,” and Hubbard’s comic-book cosmology became “sacred scriptures.’
– Source: Scientology: The Thriving Cult of Greed and Power, TIME Magazine, May 6, 1991

A judge has order that the E-Meter must be prominently labeled with a warning notice: The E-Meter is not medically or scientifically useful for the diagnosis, treatment or prevention of any disease. It is not medically or scientifically capable of improving the health or bodily functions of anyone.

The Church of Scientology has morphed this statement as follows:

By itself, this meter does nothing. It is solely for the guide of Ministers of the Church in Confessionals and pastoral counseling. The Electrometer is not medically or scientifically capable of improving the health or bodily function of anyone and is for religious use by students and Ministers of the Church of Scientology only.

To learn the truth about the E-Meter, visit Secrets of Scientology: The E-Meter.

Makes you wonder why anyone would even be remotely interested in obtaining one of these gadgets.

See also:

Scientology Versus Medicine
Medical claims within Scientology’s secret teachings
Research resources on Scientology

Meanwhile, Scott Pilutik states:

…Bill and the other similarly afflicted sellers are not without a legal basis for a complaint. It’s possible to argue that Scientology is engaging in price fixing, tortious interference with a contract, misrepresentation, perjury, unfair competition, discriminatory business practices, and religious discrimination, to name a few off the top of my head. Scientology’s intellectual property rights in its e-meter stop well short of being able to prevent a secondary market from existing, but eBay’s VeRO program permits them to essentially do just that.
– Source: Scientology abuses eBay’s VeRO program to practice religious, price discrimination, Reality Based Community, Feb. 18, 2008


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, Religion News Blog, Feb. 20, 2008,

Religion News Blog posted this on Wednesday February 20, 2008.
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