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Legal Battle over Komen Foundation’s “For the Cure”

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Photo by wishuponacupcake on Flickr

Photo by wishuponacupcake on Flickr

In nonprofit cancer awareness lexicon, the phrase “for the cure” has become commonplace, but Susan G. Komen for the Cure isn’t happy about the trademarked phrase being used outside of its own fund-raising efforts. According to The Wall Street Journal, the country’s foremost breast cancer charity is suing “kite fliers, kayakers and dozens of other themed fund-raisers that it contends are poaching its name.”

Some of the alleged offenders include groups who have tried to trademark “for the cure” as part of their name, such as “Bark for the Cure” and “Blondes for the Cure.” At least one of the named organizations say they weren’t aware of Komen’s use of the slogan; Susan G. Komen for the Cure was previously known as The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation from its founding in 1982 until 2007, when it officially changed its name and logo.

Another recognizable feature of Komen for the Cure events is the color pink — and lawyers for the foundation has also put out warnings to those who might attempt to capitalize on the color.

Regarding the lawsuit and protection of the foundation’s trademark, Jonathan Blum, Komen’s general counsel, wrote in an email: “We see it as responsible stewardship of our donor’s funds.”

The issue also comes down to donations, as those ready to write checks to charities may get confused when groups have similar names and end up giving money to a charity to which they didn’t intend to donate.

“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,’” said trademark attorney Andrew Price.

As noted by the WSJ, “Trademark turf battles characteristic of sharp-elbowed corporations are erupting across the typically amicable world of nonprofits. Charities raising money for the same cause are getting into dust-ups over fonts, logo designs and other branding minutia.”

What do you think about this lawsuit and the use of “for the cure” in cancer awareness campaigns?

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August 9th, 2010 at 11:30 am