Inventors Eye
Aug Sep 2011: volume two issue four0

The USPTO's bimonthly publication for the independent inventor community

Children wearing shoes

Giving Through a Trademark

It is commonly believed that necessity is the mother of invention, and yet to the owners of the trademarks on Toms® and Nokero®, necessity means the responsibility to transform a trademark into a vehicle of humanitarian deeds with the capacity to unite society in a global effort to give.

The realization of the impact that a pair of shoes could have in a child’s life and education inspired entrepreneur Blake Mycoskie to create and use Toms as a way to provide those children with a new pair of opportunities. In 2006, he developed the One for One movement. For every pair of shoes purchased, Toms donates a pair of shoes to a child in need. The program was made possible by partnering with humanitarian organizations in over 20 different countries that work with underprivileged communities to improve their education, hygiene and health. The initiative earned Toms the People’s Design Award from the Smithsonian’s Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum in 2007. In 2009, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton presented the State Department’s Award for Corporate Excellence (ACE) to Mycoskie's company.

Not content to rest on those laurels, Toms recently increased its level of humanitarian commitment.  A new initiative offers medical treatment, prescription glasses or sight-saving surgery to those in need when a pair of the newly launched Toms eyewear is purchased. These services, provided in Cambodia, Tibet, and Nepal, enhance children's and families' lifestyles through the improvement of eyesight.

Another company with a registered trademark that has centered its efforts on helping those in need is Nokero. The company was founded in 2010 by inventor Stephen Katsaros.  Nokero promotes environmentally-friendly solar products which allow families to replace kerosene-fueled electric equipment with less dangerous products, like solar light bulbs. Through a partnership with Project C.U.R.E.®, Nokero allows people to donate light bulbs to improve the life of families who illuminate their homes with kerosene.  In addition to providing affordable illumination, this charitable initiative decreases the use of harmful and polluting fuels that can cause accidental fires and deaths.

“Be the change you wish to see in the world," Gandhi once said. Toms and Nokero are two companies with registered trademarks who have put those words into action.  One pair of shoes, a set of eye glasses and light bulbs have improved life for millions of families, bringing change and hope to the distant corners of the earth.

by María Isabelle Pagán-Altieri : Extern to the Office of Innovation Development