Ice Bucket trademark

ALS ice bucket challengeThe last few weeks all social media are stuffed with famous and non-famous folks dumping ice cold water over their heads, to promote the ALS Association in their fight to find a cure for ALS. Now the ALS Association wants to trademark the word ‘ice bucket challenge’. Can they?

Some people say it’s a waste of water, some say it’s better to donate than to pour water over your head. But the last few weeks have undoubtedly put the terrible disease ALS in the world’s spotlight.

The ALS Association has raked in more than $94 million in donations from the ice bucket challenges in just under a month. Now, the organization has filed two trademark applications: “ice bucket challenge” and “ALS ice bucket challenge.”

If and when the trademark applications are approved, this means the ALS Association has the exclusive right to use the name, and to prevent others from using it without their consent.

US trademark attorney Erik Pelton was upset: “The reasons in general one seeks to protect a trademark is to prevent others from using it.”, Pelton said. “I find this to be shameful, because I hope that they would never consider preventing some other charity from using the phrase.”

The ALS Association replied by saying it wants to use its trademark to stop unscrupulous profiteers trying to drive revenue to them, instead of the fight against ALS. The organization mentioned examples like a Halloween costume and several T-shirts, from which the profits don’t necessarily go to towards ALS research.

Although Pelton is basically right: ALS can – if the trademarks are registered – prevent anyone from using it. But it would not be in their best interest of course. All the people using it, have been using to to raise awareness and donate money. MarkMatters.com believes the registration will only be used to fight clear misuse of abuse of the phrase “ice bucket challenge” or “ALS ice bucket challenge”.

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Erwin Hauër

“Hoop is geen strategie.”

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