History of the “Earth Day” trademark
The trademark “Earth Day” was originally registered by Earth Day Canada, BC Branch in 1989. It was assigned to Earth Day International in 1991, with Earth Day Canada given responsibility for its promotion and management within Canada until July 18th, 1994 when ownership of the mark was officially transferred to Earth Day Canada.
In the United States, the term “Earth Day” is considered public domain, so anyone, including for-profit companies, can use these words to promote the sale of their products or services or to bolster their public appearance, even if their product or service is not environmentally friendly. Because of this, in the US, the term “Earth Day” has lost its value and connection with environmental responsibility with the public. To prevent this from happening in Canada, Earth Day Canada trademarked “Earth Day” and only allows it to be used in association with environmentally-sound endeavours as approved by Earth Day Canada.
There are cases where products or services align with Earth Day Canada’s beliefs in sustainability. In these instances, Earth Day Canada is willing to license the use of its trademarks to the company and allow “Earth Day” to be associated with the product or service. While the trademark “Earth Day” cannot be used for commercial gain, it is free to use for individuals, schools, environmental and community groups. Corporations can gain legitimate use of the trademark by entering into a licensing agreement with Earth Day Canada. Such uses of Earth Day have always been allowed, and encouraged.