ALS Association Backs Away from Ice Bucket Challenge Trademark

By Joseph Mandour on September 5, 2014

bucketSan Diego – The ALS Association (ALSA) has expressly abandoned a trademark application for the term “ice bucket challenge,” the name that was used for the viral video sensation, which has raised more than $94 million for the group in less than a month. ALSA backed away from seeking to trademark the term after it got a negative feedback on reports of its efforts to claim ownership to the phrase.  

The group recently filed applications with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to secure rights for “ice bucket challenge” and “ALS ice bucket challenge.” At the time the organization said it was moving to get the trademarks with the blessings of the families that initiated the challenge. However, after some negative reactions to the news, ALSA backtracked and issued a statement that it is dropping the effort to stake a claim to the trademarks.  ALSA officials said that they filed for these trademarks in good faith to protect them from misuse.

The Ice Bucket Challenge caught on like wild fire this summer across various social media platforms with millions, including celebrities, athletes and politicians dumping icy water on their heads and donating money to fight amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a disease that affects the brain and the spinal cord. But some are of the opinion that ALSA, which did not really play a part in creating this challenge, went too far in trying to trademark the terms.

The campaign has brought in a massive influx of donations for ALSA.  The organization is still looking into how the money will be spent.  The group has handed out 21 new grants to ALS researchers and has said it is likely to spend more on research projects as well as for care and advocacy of those fighting the disease.

The main issue with some on ALSA’s attempt to trademark these terms is that it tried to trademark a phrase that it did not create. The Ice Bucket Challenge was started by a few families and caught on thanks to social media.  Some have compared ALSA’s trademark attempt to the Boston Beer Company’s efforts to claim rights to the phrase “Boston Strong” after the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing.

Related Articles: