by Andrew D. Price, Esq., Venable LLP
To determine what type of control is needed within this system, it is useful to understand the type of mark being challenged in Freecycle. In Freecycle, the marks (e.g., FREECYCLE) appeared to be traditional trademarks (i.e., marks that identify the source of goods/services); the owner sought to register its logo as such. The marks did not appear to be certification marks (i.e., marks that certify the quality of goods/services) or collective membership marks (i.e., marks that just signify membership in an organization).
Often a nonprofit wishes to allow members and chapters to use the nonprofit’s primary logo as a sign of membership, though the nonprofit does not wish to manage a certification program like UL or a traditional trademark license (e.g., as used in merchandising). In that case, the nonprofit should take three steps.