The Komen Foundation is Suing Small Charities for Using the Word 'Cure' in Their Names

Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the huge Breast Cancer Research Charity Fund, has spent over a $1 million in legal fees to sue other charities using the word ‘cure’ in their names. The Komen Foundation is claiming that they own the legal rights to the word ‘cure’ so is taking steps to protect the word as their own trademark.

The large charity has sued more than 100 smaller charities who also happen to use the word ‘cure’ in their names. The Komen Foundation is also suing charities who also choose the color ‘pink’ in support of their colors.

According to the Huffington Post, the Komen Foundation is fairly aggressive against the smaller charities that they believe are guilty of copyright infringement. As a result, the smaller charities are forced to defend themselves in and out of court by hiring expensive attorneys that they can’t afford.

As one of the charities interviewed in the article observed, you would expect something like this from a huge corporation like McDonald’s, but not from another charitable organization.

I know nothing of copyright infringement laws, but a charity owning the word ‘cure’ seems on the same level as a writer owning the word ‘the’. It just doesn’t make any sense. If the word ‘Komen’ was in the title of the other charitable organizations, that might give the foundation  grounds for a lawsuit.

But it isn’t.

The use of the word ‘cure’ is so generic that it’s really hard for me to believe that any other charitable organization could be confused with the Komen Foundation just because they both use the word ‘cure’ in their titles. And, although the color pink is largely associated with Breast Cancer research, it’s just a color. How can one charitable organization claim an entire color for itself? Have they tried to sue Victoria's Secret as well?  Will smaller charities get sued for giving out pink t-shirts to fun-run participants in the future? (I’ve yet to hear of any gay rights organizations suing over the use of rainbows by others.)

Are other charitable organizations going to have to be more cautious about which words they choose to use in association with their charities in the future? I knew that corporations were fairly protective of their trademarks, but I didn’t realize that charities had this much money to spend on power attorneys to crush their small opponents.

I don’t know about you, but when I donate to a charity, I am not intending to give them money to spend on frivolous lawsuits attacking smaller charities. If you support Breast Cancer research, you might just want to find another charity to give your money to.


Anonymous's picture


Can you imagine if they donated the money they're spending on legal and court fees to cancer research, where we might be on finding a cure? These charities are all in this to do the same thing - raise money to cure cancer. What if the ACS uses the word cure in an event they handle - is Komen going to try to sue them? I call BS on this whole situation. What a shame.


Anonymous's picture


It's really awful that they are doing this. It makes me wonder how other charities are spending their money.


Anonymous's picture


I stopped donating to any charity along time ago for other reasons and this just justifys my decision..In my own county I give and I know where the dollars are going...this is pathetic and the money does not go to breast cancer reseach...If it did all women would be told to take vit D3 and antioxitants etc...what a joke...I don't wear pink either ...I find real ways to help...


ButDoctorIHatePink's picture


I am a breast cancer patient.  I got a lot of help from the American Cancer Society, and other groups.  The group I did NOT get any support from is Komen.  Being active in the cancer world now, I have discovered that they do little to help aid in cancer research or looking for a cure.  They fund mobile mammograms in rural areas and as far as I can tell, that's about it.  The rest of the money seems to go to fuel their huge marketing machines.  Donate your money to the American Cancer Society, Stand up 2 Cancer, or other reputable charities.  Komen and the KeepaBreast foundation do little to nothing to help cancer patients or anything to cure us.  I'm glad some of their tactics are now getting out.


anonymous's picture


so many billion of dollars is going to the "Cure" they say, but appose to fighting in court with high power attorney's, Susan G should be helping the women and men in treatment.  They need the help!!


Cure's picture


Wish i could change the font in my comment to pink.
What utter rubbish!
Whats next? You going to sue people for helping the same kind of cancer people you help?
Get over yourself, you're all in the same corner.