Mush for a Cure’s Statement on The Komen Foundation’s Trademark Opposition

2-28-11 UPDATE: We have received notice from our attorney that Komen has dropped their opposition to our trademark application. Our application is now back at the USPTO going through the process. If all goes well, we should receive our “mark” in 1-3 months. Thank you NBC (and MaryAnn Tighe) for your bringing our case to the forefront!

Mush for the Cure began five years ago and what a journey it’s been! The inaugural event started with just four women raising $2,500 and has since grown to over 50 participants, not to mention 755 Facebook fans, and over $70,000 donated to national breast cancer charities. We’re proud of our history and excited by our momentum as we head into our fifth annual event this March. That being said, you may hear a little buzz about us in the news, and we wanted to provide some information to our friends and followers.

Since we were growing, we were advised to submit an application to the United States Patent and Trademark Office to trademark our name. We were surprised and saddened that our application was opposed by Susan G. Komen Foundation disputing the use of the phrase “for a cure”. Many organizations use this phrase to represent what we’re all trying to do – working together to find a cure. Other examples include Kites for a Cure, Athletes for a Cure, and Cruisin’ For a Cure. Many of these organizations also have heard from Komen, with claims surrounding the use of the phrase (for a cure or for the cure) and the color pink (the brand has arguably has made it synonymous with breast cancer awareness).

Susan G. Komen Foundation is considered the global leader of the breast cancer movement, reportedly investing nearly $1.5 billion since it began in 1982. The nonprofit is registered as Susan G Komen For The Cure®.  All subsequent events and programs fall under this umbrella and also are trademarked: Race for the Cure; Marathon For The Cure; American Airlines Miles for the Cure; etc. They are widely recognized as a leader in the fight against breast cancer, and we respect and value their contributions to the cause.  We understand that they have a brand to uphold and strong brands need to have controls in place. Our frustration lies in the fact that we all share a common end goal, and the process, rules and stipulations their organization doesn’t seem to reflect this.

While opposing our application is not technically considered a lawsuit, it will cost us money in legal fees if we chose to fight them- money that we don’t have to spend and would rather spend on continuing our work than a lawsuit. We are currently exploring our options, one of which includes finding a pro bono attorney. We, too, want to protect our brand! We won’t know where this appeal will take us. But what we do know is that we have proudly donated over $70,000 breast cancer charities through our event and, regardless of name or color, we will continue on our mission to raise awareness of and raise funds to find a cure for breast cancer.

We’ll keep you updated and look forward to seeing you in March to help us surpass our $100,000 goal.

Susan Prom and Mary Black
Mush for a Cure co-founders

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