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Millard Fuller, fired from his job as Habitat for Humanity’s president earlier this year, said he may drop the Habitat name from his new homebuilding charity to avoid a costly legal battle. Habitat for Humanity International, the group Fuller founded and ran for three decades, filed a lawsuit in federal court May 10 to stop Fuller from using the name, “Building Habitat,” for the fundraising group that he is starting. The lawsuit argues that Fuller’s use of the word Habitat would infringe on Habitat for Humanity’s trademark and could interfere with its business and fundraising activities. Fuller said he will announce his decision on a possible name change Saturday during the official opening of the headquarters for his new group in Americus, Ga., only about two miles from Habitat’s international headquarters. Fuller said he considers the word “Habitat” to be generic, but he may avoid using it in his new group’s name so that neither side wastes money in a legal battle. “We want the money used for building houses,” said Fuller, who vowed to have his new group help raise money for Habitat for Humanity and other homebuilding charities. Fuller, who founded Habitat for Humanity in 1976, was fired Jan. 31 after more than a year of tension sparked by allegations that he sexually harassed a female colleague. However, Habitat’s board concluded there was insufficient evidence to substantiate the charge. The dismissal of Fuller and his wife, Linda, has put a rift in the charity’s large fundraising base. Habitat chapters around the world have a combined annual budget of about $748 million, but some longtime donors say they’re upset about Fuller’s dismissal and will stop giving money to the global nonprofit, which has built nearly 200,000 houses for 1 million people. Fuller, a charismatic fundraiser who is widely known and respected by members of Habitat’s affiliates, said Wednesday that in three months he’s already raised nearly $2 million in pledges for his new group and donations arrive in the mail almost each day. “All we want to do is offer help to solve this world’s housing needs,” he said. Chris Clarke, Habitat’s vice president for communications, said attorneys for Habitat and Fuller have been discussing the name change issue. As for Fuller’s statement, Clarke said, “We think it is a very positive sign.” Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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