[Foundation-l] Protecting the URL and Trademarks

George Herbert george.herbert at gmail.com
Wed Apr 25 23:47:53 UTC 2007

This conversation  went sideways a bit and then petered out over the
weekend while I was sick.  I wanted to throw some suggestions in.

Easy suggestion:

Form another 501 C 3, "Wikipedia Foundation" (WPF) or somesuch.
Transfer it the trademark and ownership for the domain name.  Have it
license those back to the Wikimedia Foundation for a notional $1/yr.

Have it have a minimal, trusted board, with no WMF overlap, and
charter to protect those assets.

It's safe; it's not actually doing anything, so it can't be sued.  If
the WMF gets sued into oblivion, the domain and trademark don't go
with it, and the WPF can then license the assets to whichever
appropriate new free content organization springs up in the wake of
the debacle.


Spin Wikipedia off into a Wikipedia Foundation, taking the lawsuit
risks with it, and licensing the domain and trademark from WMF.  This
allows the WMF to broaden its horizons a bit and become a long term
umbrella trust for open content in all its myriad forms, spawning new
project foundations as appropriate.

This might be easiest.  Among other things, a spun-off WPF could even
be a not-for-profit company, not even having to be a 501 C 3 (with all
the years of paperwork and IRS foo-foo); I doubt that anyone would
seriously object if a not-for-profit WPF running the Wikipedias was
funded in part by donations from the 501 C 3 WMF, or that donations to
the WMF were  partly directed on to a not-for-profit.

I don't believe there's anything illegal or unethical or fattening
about that.  You just need to fully disclose any relationships to
donors and make sure that the not-for-profit Wikipedia Foundation
books are sufficiently open, and not being used as a tax dodge.

This all needs an appropriate corporate attorney review, probably
corporate attorney with tax and nonprofits experience.

-george william herbert
george.herbert at gmail.com

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