Friday, August 20, 2010

Nonprofits duke it out in court over brand identities

Susan G. Komen For the Cure and the Lance Armstrong Foundation's LIVESTRONG initiative are two of the most widely known nonprofit organizations publicly fighting cancer. But a recent Wall Street Journal article explains that these two groups, and others, are aggressively defending their brand identities from infringement by suing other nonprofit organizations.

According to the report, Susan G. Komen has taken legal action against numerous nonprofits for using the phrase "for a cure" in their names or for using the color pink, two hallmarks of Komen's brand. And the Lance Armstrong Foundation went after a foundation called "HEADstrong" for bolding the word "strong" and for using a gold color in its logo similar to the yellow used in "LIVESTRONG".

But many of the groups being charged with infringement say they had no idea that their brands were similar those of these major groups. Others contend that colors and simple, common phrases like "for the cure" cannot be owned by a single nonprofit.

"It is startling to us that Komen think they own pink," explained Mary Ann Tight of a breast cancer charity called "Kites for a Cure". Komen went after Tight's organization for using a similar name and color scheme, and suggested the group change its name to "Kites for a Cause". Read more...

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