Intellectual Property, Charity and Not-For-Profit

A charitable donation as part of a settlement creates goodwill

Toronto intellectual property and charity/not-for-profit lawyer Taras Kulish says that negotiating a charitable donation as part of a settlement in an intellectual property dispute can create a win-win situation for both parties involved.

Kulish, in a recent presentation to the Ismaili Food Services Alliance held at The Ismaili Centre, Toronto, shared with the crowd a novel way of increasing goodwill in an IP dispute.

He detailed a Federal Court trademark case he was counsel on where, as part of the settlement discussions, he requested the other side include a donation to his client’s charity of choice.

“My client, being part of a cultural religious community, felt it was very important to give back to the community,” says Kulish, a lawyer with Steinberg Title Hope & Israel LLP. “What they would have done typically, once they got their settlement, is they would have given a portion of the settlement to cultural institutions in their community — in this case to the Aga Khan Museum or to The Ismaili Centre.”

He tells that in this particular case dealing with confusing trademarks, once he had a final offer from the other side — a large, multi-national food conglomerate — he requested a $25,000 charitable donation over and above their final offer as part of the settlement.

“The company agreed,” Kulish says. “One of the reasons they agreed is that it was to be a direct contribution to the charity, so the other side gets the credit from the community as well as a tax receipt.”

He notes that many corporations should be open to making a donation to a charity as part of a settlement.

“This really was an example of a win-win-win situation. The client wins, because they’re able to orchestrate this and benefit their community, the other side wins because they come out of it with some goodwill, and of course the charity wins with a sizeable donation.”

Kulish adds that this type of settlement arrangement also opens the door for future co-operation between two previously litigious parties.

“It creates goodwill and paves the way for future cooperation between the parties,” he says. “It had a good outcome for all involved.”

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