As detailed in the Wall Street Journal on August 5, 2010, protecting a nonprofit’s trademarks doesn’t stop at just the logo. Non-Profits need to trademark their phrases, power lines, tag lines and slogans … indeed, any phrase or image that used to represent the organization or its services.
This lesson has come home to haunt Susan G. Komen for the Cure (the folks who created the pink ribbon logo for the fight against breast cancer. According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, “Charity Brawl: Nonprofits Aren’t So Generous When a Name’s at Stake,” Susan G. Komen For the Cure is “launching a not-so-friendly legal battle against kite fliers, kayakers and dozens of other themed fund-raisers that it contends are poaching its name. And it’s sternly warning charities against dabbling with pink, its signature hue.”
All non-profits need to seek legal advice when coming up with logos and fundraising slogans in order to make sure they are not trespassing on another’s property. Then once a unique logo and slogan is obtained, protect it. In fact, if you fail to protect it you can lose it! It may be taxing to protect a trademark, but it is both emotionally and financially wrenching when a charity neglects to do its due diligence when trademarking its identity.