I'm Jeff Trexler, Wilson Professor of Social Entrepreneurship at Pace University, where I study law and personal identity. It's good to be here at JustMeans. Uncivil Society is a blog I maintain about values, design and corporate identity, with a particular focus on social enterprise. The Blingdom of God is where I write about spirituality and material culture....
The Super Terrible Social Enterprise
The Pittsburgh Steelers aren't the only winners of the Super Bowl. As the New York Times explains, the Allegheny Valley School for people with severe developmental disabilities stands to gain a serious windfall from the Steelers' victory.
The reason: the charity owns the trademark to Myron Cope's the Official Terrible Towel, the team's official rally flag. The rights had already been bringing the school "tens of thousands of dollars" every month, and with the Super Bowl the income is poised to skyrocket.
This invaluable support highlights the potential value of intellectual property rights to a charity. Whether a charity develops its own properties (such as the Oscars) or receives a property as a gift (as with the Terrible Towel), the strategic exploitation of IP provides a way to generate a substantial amount of money without generating unrelated business income tax or jeopardizing tax exempt status.
The image above illustrates how creative one can be in exploiting a mark. After all, the trademark for the Terrible Towel does not have to be confined to actual towels--it can also be licensed for cakes.