California Non-Profit Settles Trademark Dispute with Charity Team Building Company

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Bike Building Charity Activities Clash Over a Disputed Tradename

Build-A-Bike ® Team Building Activity

Build-A-Bike ® Team Building Activity

I’m glad we could put this behind us and get back to what both of us do really well – helping kids.

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After almost a year of negotiations, Golden State Foods Foundation (GSFF), a California non-profit, settled a pending trademark lawsuit with The Leader’s Institute ®, a Texas-based charity team building company last week. Although GSFF admitted no wrong-doing, they agreed to stop using the disputed trade name, Build-A-Bike ® to avoid a costly lawsuit.

The Leader’s Institute ® has offered a bicycle building team activity that they call Build-A-Bike ® since 2005, and the company owner, Doug Staneart applied for and received a Federal Trademark for the name in 2006. The Build-A-Bike ® team activity is a workshop where corporate teams work together to build bicycles for underprivileged kids in their local area. “It’s been the most popular team building activity that we offer for almost a decade, because it is so much fun, and it also helps kids in the community,” said Staneart. “For most training opportunities, we look for a win-win scenario, but with Build-A-Bike ®, it’s a Win-Win-Win, because we as a company can help teams become more effective, the participants are learning valuable team skills, and a number of local kids get a brand-new bike.”

Because GSFF had also begun to use the trade name Build-A-Bike to describe their bicycle building activity, The Leader's Institute filed a lawsuit in The United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas, styled The Leader’s Institute, LLC v. Golden State Foods Foundation, Civ. A. No. 3:16-cv-03258.

According to court documents, The Leader's Institute ® sent a cease and desist letter to GSFF in May of 2016, and received a response from attorneys representing GSFF saying that although GSFF didn’t agree that The Leader’s Institute ® owned the exclusive trademark, they would comply and change the name of their activity to avoid a dispute. Three months later, GSFF was still using the mark. However, in September of 2016, GSFF changed the name of their event to Build-ur-Bike in an effort to comply with the cease and desist request.

Negotiations between the two parties have continued since the lawsuit was filed. Last week, both parties agreed to settle the dispute but the terms were not disclosed. All instances of the Build-A-Bike and Build-ur-Bike trade names have since been removed from GSFF’s official website and social media sites.

“I’m glad we could put this behind us and get back to what both of us do really well – helping kids,” said Staneart. The Leader’s Institute, LLC donates over a half-million dollars-worth of bicycles and helmets to charities each year. According to Staneart, since 2005, the company has donated over $5,000,000 in bicycles to children all over the world.

Doug Staneart is CEO of The Leader’s Institute® based in Dallas, Texas. His company specializes in charity team building activities for companies who want to improve teamwork while giving back to their communities.

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