The palaver prompted a retort from Dan Pallotta, renown philanthropist who is evangelical about the need to change the mind-set about how we see charity and for charities to change their perception of themselves (see his post in Harvard Business Review entitled “Is it Wrong To Sue a Charity?” and his fabulous Ted Talk here). His post was followed by an insightful article published in Boston College Law Review by Lauren Behr entitled Trademarks for the Cure: Why Nonprofits Need Their Own Set of Trademark Rules.
Well, traditional forms of IP protection should be considered not only in protecting the brand but also the creativity and innovation within the non profit. Care should be taken in deciding where to house the IP because of the possible tax and structural challenges and advantages in using a non profit or trust. Vigilance and deftness should be key in communicating, licensing and enforcing IP both from a legal and PR point of view. One needs to remember that the philanthropic may be in the business of giving but that does not mean it’s for others to take.
It’s time for the non profit brands especially in the philanthropic space to step out from the purple rain.