Breast Cancer Charity Bullying Other Charities Over Trademark

from the for-the-cure dept

A few months back we had a few submissions over some claims by the "Susan G. Komen for the Cure" operation was being a trademark bully, and threatening other charities that were using the color pink. SGK is the big name in raising money for breast cancer research, but a new article highlights how it's also spending over a million dollars a year being a trademark bully: specifically going after anyone else who uses the phrase "for the cure" or "for a cure" as part of their own charitable fundraising. The organization claims that it "needs" to do this to protect its trademark, but as we've pointed out time and time again, that's simply not true. First, you could argue that raising money for charity is not "use in commerce" and thus not deserving of a trademark. On top of that, the phrase "for the cure" certainly sounds descriptive, and again perhaps doesn't deserve a trademark

But, even assuming that the trademark itself is valid, there are all sorts of ways it could deal with other charities using that phrase without acting like a legal bully. It could simply agree to license the mark at no cost to other legitimate charities. SGK's claim, of course, is that it doesn't want the phrase to get sullied by unscrupulous organizations, but that doesn't mean it needs to pull out the legal guns when a legitimate charity comes along. Just let them use the damn phrase, and let everyone help raise money for charity, rather than legal bills.

Filed Under: breast cancer, charity, for the cure, trademark
Companies: susan g. komen


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  1. icon
    David Sanger (profile), 8 Dec 2010 @ 10:25am

    Trademark license for different product??

    Mike. your suggestion to "license" the trademark to other entities doesn't make sense. It would likely be considered "naked licensing" and they could lose their trademarks:

    http://definitions.uslegal.com/n/naked-license/

    "licensing is generally permitted provided that the mark’s owner retains the right to approve the licensee’s use of the mark and supervise any element of quality control over the same. The logic is clear: if the mark is to have the import of signifying a particular source of certain goods or services and the public is going to have the right to rely on that mark for that significance, then when the mark is licensed to a party for use other than by the mark’s owner, the mark’s owner should be in a position to approve the use of the mark in relationship to the licensee’s good or services so that the public, upon seeing the mark in regard to those goods or services provided by the licensee, may rely on the same good will and quality it has come to know in relationship to that mark. " http://j.mp/g9gwOZ

    ps I am not a lawyer. But I also agree that it seems the claims appear overly broad (e.g. objecting to use of the color pink)

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