About the charity
The Conservation Foundation (the “Foundation”) helps individuals and communities to take practical action to support themselves and their environment. It creates projects that help to inspire interest and engage people from all walks of life, including in schools and prisons.
For example, its Tools Shed Project repairs broken and unwanted garden tools in prison workshops and gives the ‘new’ tools to local schools and community groups to use. The prisoners gain qualifications and skills from the experience, which open up future employment possibilities, and the project itself reduces waste and engages the local community.
The Foundation has also developed the Unlocking Nature Project in Wandsworth Prison to ‘turn it green’. There is currently little or no green space within the prison and the prisoners will be encouraged to take part in creating what they want to see. The introduction of green space is expected to improve mental wellbeing, reduce levels of stress and combat anti-social behaviour.
The Foundation was approached by a production company which was interested in making a television series about the Unlocking Nature Project. The Foundation was keen to pursue this as it would raise the profile of its work and provide an opportunity to commercialise its products. Like many other applicants to LawWorks’ Not-For-Profits Programme, the Foundation had been finding it increasingly difficult to access funds and was interested in looking at new ways, such as this, to ensure its sustainability.
The Foundation applied to LawWorks for advice about what intellectual property rights it should protect when considering taking part in the television series.
LawWorks received the Foundation’s application and worked with it to assess its eligibility for the programme and gather relevant information so that it could provide a clear brief to potential volunteers.
The pro bono opportunity was taken on by Serena Totino from K&L Gates LLP. Serena was particularly keen to volunteer and try something different to her normal day-to-day work.
Serena took the time to properly understand the Foundation’s work so that she could advise it on how best to protect its rights. She also assisted the Foundation with the registration of two of its trade marks.
The Foundation said that Serena “is the kind of lawyer one always hopes to meet but rarely does”.
It had previously found the concept of trade marks “very opaque”, but Serena made what can be quite complicated “simple and accessible…She was able to look at it from her perspective and then distil it down to things we needed to know – things that, if you are not a lawyer, are a complete mystery”.
Serena commented that she was privileged to work with the Foundation and to contribute to such a great cause. She noted that “intellectual property should be a priority when it comes to starting a new creative project because it can result in substantial savings and an opportunity to monetise new ideas”. Serena also said that “on a professional level, working for a charity is a valuable experience for a lawyer”.
The Foundation lodged its applications for the trade marks which means it is now prepared should the opportunity arise to commercialise its projects. The Foundation felt that it was “on a much more professional footing”.
The Foundation noted that it could “not possibly have afforded the advice, could not have dreamed of it” and that without the advice it may have put its intellectual property at serious risk in the future.
The Foundation said, “the service was outstanding. We received a swift response to our request and then an introduction to a lawyer who was a delight to work with”. It commented that the Not-For-Profits Programme was a “wonderful resource for a charity to access”.
Serena said she found LawWorks “a very helpful intermediary” and would definitely take on other cases in the future.