Work: April 2008 Archives

Setting it straight

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Way back in 2004 I applied to register "Mamalogues" as a federal trademark. At the time there were no other "mamalogues" on the Web. I researched. The USPTO researched. They concurred, which is why they agreed and allowed me to register my site's name as a trademark in connection with a blog about motherhood and parenting.

One thing about trademarks: they're not like copyrights. Trademarks must be maintained because any stone left unturned can weaken the ability of a mark to distinguish a person's goods and services. This is intellectual property law 101. Because my mark was used as a column, because the name was optioned in Hollywood once, and now it seems for a second time, as a project, I knew that I had to stand up and protect my property. So I did.

Ms. Genevieve Hinson was apparently offended by this. I got emails asking me if I was related to her, if our sites were affiliated - there was actual confusion between the two websites. Then she followed me on Twitter. She was well aware of my trademark as I use the ® symbol present beside my mark. I was very cool and contacted her and told her hi, I was a bit concerned, could we talk? I was ignored. Again. And again. And again. I didn't quite know what to do. I realize that bringing the law into your life is a very serious thing and I wanted to steer clear of that but I have a responsibility to protect my property. So I contacted my attorneys. A cease and desist was sent out.

Just days before the deadline to which she was to respond, I was notified by a reporter, Nick Belardes, in my comments section no less, who very curtly asked me why I was "going after" everyone with a "mom" in their website name and oh, he was going to do a piece about it for the ABC affiliate ABC23 KERO in Bakersfield, California. Except that he already did it; it not only aired, but a story was on their website as well as video. I followed the link he gave me and I couldn't believe my eyes. I started crying.

Not only was the story missing valuable information, but I couldn't believe that they went so far as to suggest that I'm somehow being a "bully." I couldn't believe that Hinson thought it easier to run to a news outlet instead of just talking to me in the beginning. Who knows what could've happened. That it was asked why I was protecting my mark instead of asking why others were causing me to protect my mark also blew my mind.

What wasn't mentioned in the piece were all the times I tried to contact her and amicably discuss the issue. Or that I obtained my federal trademark before she blogged, and years before the entry was made on Urban Dictionary (I also think it's curious how the Urban Dictionary entry was created just last month). It didn't mention that my dispute with MomLogic was not over the issue of "," but rather over their use of "momologues" as a blog on their website.

The bottom line is that it's not a case of "cyber bullying," it's about the rights extended to owners of trademarks under federal law. Specifically, federal trademark law requires that the trademark owners be vigilant with the protection of their marks. Plus, the term "bullying"  suggests that there is a disparity between resource and power when in reality, both parties are represented by capable counsel representing their interests in this matter.

It's amazing that I can be vilified for simply protecting that which I have earned, applied for, and received. I never tried to prevent anyone's speech, but rather act to protect my proprietary interest in my URL. I've never told anyone that they couldn't blog, but rather am asserting my right to my trademark which identifies my website.

That's why companies protect their trademarks.

You can't create a car company and call it "Dadge." You can't open up a coffee shop and call it Stahrbuchs. This is one of the main reasons I, and others, founded the bloggers' guild, to protect our work. We want to protect ourselves against any attempts to restrict and/or dilute the scope and force of the validity of our intellectual property, among many other goals.

It really upsets me that Ms. Hinson would use such a platform to express, for the first time, her disagreement with respect to my rights under trademark and in the process essentially cast me as the villain - that her dispute would resort to personal name-calling instead of having a discussion about the issues of our dispute.

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Mamalogues v 3.0

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I was up until 2 a.m. last night restoring my archives. It's going to be a long process. Fortunately, many of you had my archives in your feed readers and two lovely ladies in particular have pretty much my total archives combined. Thanks to everyone who's helped; Martin for his help through the years and Craig for totally bailing my arse out last night and doing the majority of what you're looking at here. He can bend CSS like those kids in the "Matrix" bend spoons. I cannot thank you guys enough.

It's an excellent opportunity to weed through my archives and remove the junk. I'm not kidding myself; after four-plus years I know there's been junk. I'm also in the process of rewriting every single one of my columns. I recently discovered that my former employer is selling archived copies of my columns. In order to write for that employer you pretty much have to sell your soul, which is what I did, like an idiot, because I was under the ridiculous assumption that only a byline gives a person credibility when really, it doesn't. It's ironic. I know not every one of those columns were winners, either, and to make up for that I've started rewriting the topics, so as not to plagiarize myself, and will be offering better versions here on my website for free. Look for that in the coming weeks.

We're still working on this site and things are going to change and things may look funky from time to time so please still with the pashince. Comments should be in working order again. If you notice any problems please let me know: mamalogues at yahoo dot com.

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