Nonprofit Newswire | Brand Wars—Nonprofit Style?

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August 5, 2010; Source: Wall Street Journal | Susan G. Komen For the Cure is launching a legal battle against “kite fliers, kayakers and dozens of other themed fund-raisers” that it says are illegally using the name, “for the cure.” Adding “for the cure” to the end of an organization’s name has been a popular way to grab name-recognition for such groups as, “Juggling for a Cure,” “Bark for the Cure,” and “Blondes for the Cure”—which have all sought to trademark their names.

What’s more, Susan G. Komen For the Cure is strongly warning other organizations not to use the color pink. “It is startling to us that Komen thinks they own pink,” says Mary Ann Tighe, who tangled with the breast-cancer charity over the color for her “Kites for a Cure” lung-cancer fund-raiser.

For Komen’s part, they feel these details are important and fear losing some of their donations to similar sounding or similar looking campaigns.

Other campaigns have locked horns over trademark issues in the past several years: The Lance Armstrong Foundation (which has branded itself LiveStrong) sought action against HeadStrong, also a cancer charity. Wounded Warriors Inc. is in a dust up with the Wounded Warrior Project. And the Sunshine Kids Foundation sent a cease-and-desist letter to the Sunshine Kids Club of California.

Can’t we all just get along? No, says Andrew Price, a trademark attorney. “The days are probably over when nonprofits just said, ‘We’ll just get along with anybody who’s a nonprofit because we’re all trying to do good here.'”—Aaron Lester

  • Jesse

    Where is the money coming from to fund these lawsuits that the big non-profit organizations and foundations are pursuing. Are donors paying for a large foundation to sue another for their name or trademark? In regards to The Sunshine Kids Foundation, they have over a million dollar budget each year, and they are going after a tiny grassroots organization in Chico, CA, The Sunshine Kids Club, who has a budget of around $120,000 per year. The Sunshine Kids Club has just two employees and is largely volunteer based and provides youth programs that directly serve hundreds of children annually. The result is that The Sunshine Kids Club does not have the resources to fight this lawsuit and therefore is being forced to spend time (that should be spent on the kids programs) in changing our name and rebranding our entire organization, which has been in existence for the past 15 years. The question is what do we do? How do we get the non-profits back to their mission, and their mission alone. The Sunshine Kids Club has a mission of inclusion, giving all kids a place to “Just Be Themselves” whether they have disabilities or not. Our biggest hope is that one day groups like ours will not be needed because inclusion will be a part of everyday life, but until then we are doing the best we can in making a difference in kids lives. One day at a time. I hope people look at this and realize that not all non-profits are the same. Do your research and see who is focused on their mission and on truly making a difference, and support those organizations, because they need it.