Chinese Charity Sues Nicholas Kristof for Breach of Agreement

Half the Sky Foundation , a non-profit with offices in Beijing, Hong Kong and Berkeley, is going after New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, his wife Sheryl WuDunn and several others for allegedly misappropriating the organization’s trademarked name.

The plaintiffs claim that after all parties worked hard to come to agreement last fall as to when and how their trademarked name Half the Sky could be used for the purposes of a two-part PBS documentary, the agreement was breached in various ways. From Courthouse News Service reporter Dan McCue’s summary:

The foundation claims the defendants solicited donations for numerous charities using the Half The Sky mark, displayed it prominently on their website and used it for branding on flyers and on social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, Google+ and YouTube.

Finally, despite assurances the documentary would be shown on PBS only once, defendants “caused the documentary to be rebroadcast on PBS, on non-PBS television stations and other non U.S. television stations… and continue to sell through their website and through,, iTunes and other outlets version of the Documentary in DVD and electronic downloadable formats.

At the end of McCue’s piece, the journalist points out that the history of the expression “Half the Sky” dates back to well before the publication of Kristoff’s 2009 book, to Mao Zedong, and that this could bring up public domain issues. The foundation wants Kristof and co. to change the name of their international women’s rights effort, and a whole lot more. Read the full details here.