Shortly after I started working for C3, we got a ceast-and-desist letter from another organization. We had used the term “Advocacy in Action” on our site, and they pointed out that they had the trademark on that term and we needed to fully link to them and disclose their trademark if we used it. It was friendly and not that big a deal to stop using the phrase. But it got us thinking…what happens if we get a similar letter about something we do care about? What if we had a problem with our name? What if the next letter wasn’t as friendly?
That started us on a quest to protect our name. Not that we have any plans to be the C3 police, but to protect ourselves from any future action. And let’s face it, we don’t want to have confusion with other organizations over our name that we don’t already have.
I worked with a trademark attorney and found that we can’t own “C3,” since there are so many organizations with that name unrelated to colorectal cancer. We can’t own “Colorectal Cancer Coalition” because it’s so general and it would be harder to defend (although McDonalds has just patented the sandwich, so who knows). What we could do was protect C3: Colorectal Cancer Coalition. Both the parts together, with the colon or puzzle in the middle. That allows us to insist that other organizations that are related to colon cancer and use “Colorectal Cancer Coalition” differentiate themselves from us. I’m not a lawyer, so I’m probably messing this up but that’s the gist.
It took over a year (and less than $1000 in lawyers, filing fees and advertising costs) to go through the process, but it’s finally done.
I need to go through and change all the “TM”s next to our logo into “R” now.
We’ve had to flex it a little bit. For example, there’s a California Colorectal Cancer Coalition and we’ve asked them (nicely, because they’re good people that we know) to always use the word “California” when describing their organization.