Nonprofits regularly use logos, taglines, and other descriptions for their organizational activities. To what extent may nonprofits trademark such information, along with their corporate name? Just exactly what is a trademark, and why is it important – particularly for legal protection? This article explains trademarks generally, identifies different types of trademarks, explains the legal significance of such differences, and provides accompanying recommendations for optimal trademark protection.
Online operations may now be the norm for many nonprofits, but they come with security risks that warrant careful attention. In May of this year, “WannaCry,” a computer “ransomware” attack, locked up over 200,000 computer systems world-wide. The attacks demanded payment in exchange for return of the locked-up data. In September, the credit bureau Equifax revealed that it had been hacked, putting over 140 million Americans’ personal information at risk.
Few things are more fundamental than one’s name. It lets others know who you are and how to find you. May a nonprofit trademark its corporate name, so that others are not legally allowed to use it? Should a nonprofit do so, to optimally protect its reputation, to preserve its unique identify, to avoid confusion? And what else should a nonprofit’s leaders consider in developing – and protecting – the organization’s name?