Trademark Law

ALS Association seeks trademark for 'ice bucket challenge'


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On the heels of a fundraising success, the ALS Association is seeking to trademark the phrases “ice bucket challenge” and “ALS ice bucket challenge.”

The popularity of the ice bucket challenge helped the group raise more than $94 million in less than a month, the Washington Post and Ars Technica report. During the same time period last year, the ALS Association raised only $2.7 million, Ars Techica says.

The association raises funds to battle amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. It is seeking to trademark “ice bucket challenge” and “ALS ice bucket challenge.”

Trademark lawyer Erik Pelton spotted the applications last week and wrote about them at his blog. Pelton questions whether the ALS Association was the first to use the phrase and says it could already be generic.

“The reasons in general one seeks to protect a trademark is to prevent others from using it,” Pelton told the Washington Post. “I find this to be shameful, because I hope that they would never consider … preventing some other charity from using the phrase.”

In a statement provided to the Washington Post, the ALS Association says it “took steps to trademark the Ice Bucket Challenge after seeing many examples of unscrupulous profiteers trying to drive revenue to themselves, instead of the fight against ALS. We secured the blessing of the families who initiated the challenge, which they provided without hesitation.”

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