Trademark infringement disputes are not limited to those between
for-profit companies. Indeed, charities also own trademarks
and they can and do enforce their trademarks against other
organizations (charitable or not) through cease and desist letters,
Case in point: Last week, Mothers Against Drunk Driving
("MADD"), a non-profit founded in 1980, sued the founders
of a relatively new charity, Mothers Of Drunk Drivers
("MODD"), for trademark infringement and dilution of
MADD's trademarks and service marks. MADD's
complaint, filed in the District of South Carolina, claims
that MODD's use of the marks MOTHERS OF DRUNK DRIVERS and MODD
is confusingly similar to MADD's federally-registered MOTHERS
AGAINST DRUNK DRIVING and MADD marks and that the MADD
and MOTHERS AGAINST DRUNK DRIVING marks are famous in South
Carolina and throughout the United States. Among other
claims, MADD's complaint also asserts
a cybersquatting claim based upon MODD's use of
the domain name mothersofdrunkdrivers.org.
MADD claims that MODD's actions have injured MADD's
fundraising efforts and goodwill and that any money MODD's
founders have raised due to their use of confusingly similar marks
is money that could have gone to MADD to support MADD's
mission. MODD's gofundme.com page, attached as an exhibit
to MADD's complaint and available online, indicates that
MODD has raised $555 in 5 months. In terms of
damages, MADD seeks to recover all revenues and charitable
contributions raised by MODD's founders as a result of their
claimed unlawful conduct. In addition to damages, MADD seeks
an order enjoining MODD's founders from using the
MOTHERS OF DRUNK DRIVERS and MODD marks, requiring
the destruction of any marketing materials containing such
marks, and ordering the cancellation or transfer of the
mothersofdrunkdrivers.org domain name.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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