Vol. LIV No. 1

Trademarks for the Cure: Why Nonprofits Need Their Own Set of Trademark Rules

Abstract:  When the Lanham Trademark Act was originally drafted in 1946, it is unlikely that Congress contemplated that trademarks would be used not only by commercial businesses but also by large nonprofits with a national reach. Today, several nonprofits have grown into highly recognizable brands that wish to protect their valuable trademarks, both to ensure that donations reach their intended recipients and to preserve their good reputation in the eyes of the public. Nonprofit charities, though, undoubtedly have very different goals than for-profit enterprises and yet they are subject to the exact same set of trademark laws. This Note argues that, in light of the fundamental differences between commercial businesses and charitable organizations, amendments to the Lanham Trademark Act are necessary. By carving out special rules for nonprofits within the Lanham Act, these charitable entities will receive the trademark protection they need and can focus on their charitable endeavors.

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