Home > About the Blog, Just WEIRD > What do you think I should do?

What do you think I should do?

I’ve had tons of people, via email and blog posts, encourage me to NOT change the name. Some of those people are even offering money to help me fight.

My options are:

1) Change the name and let the whole thing drop.
2) Change the name but keep fighting — emails, posts, networking with other interested parties, etc. In other words, be an annoying online gnat to the people who claim to own the word.
3) DON’T change the name and just see what happens.
4) DON’T change the name and accept donations from blog visitors to fund a fight.

I lean towards #2, with a big part of me interested (but a little scared of) in #3.

I think it would be a struggle to do #1, I’m not great at keeping my mouth shut on things that make me mad. I also am VERY uncomfortable with the idea of taking money from people, it just seems skeezy somehow.

I have this horrible fear that more money would come in that I might need, or it would come in and the matter would be resolved, and I’d have no idea how to refund the donations so I’d go on a fancy vacation instead and end up on Dateline in a “How to Catch a Scam Artist.”

Chris Hansen: You accepted this money to fight for free speech.
Me: Yes, I did.
Chris Hansen: But you spent it on a trip to Martha’s Vinyard.
Me: And I said the word “frugalista” A LOT while I was there ….

Anyway, I am conflicted. Tell me what you think my next steps should be.

About these ads
  1. September 23, 2009 at 8:05 am | #1

    For now, I wouldn’t change the name. I don’t think she has a case, I think she knows she doesn’t have a case. These letters can be scare tactics. If she takes further, more intense action, then maybe it’s a good idea to change it or see if other bloggers would be willing to contribute toward legal counsel. But her strategy is probably intended to scare off other bloggers. Actually pursuing the course would require committing to time and $$.

  2. Lain
    September 23, 2009 at 8:25 am | #2

    I think, for now, #3. You can always cave later and no one will think the less of you. If you fight tooth and nail after one letter, it might call attention to you.

  3. deweyw
    September 23, 2009 at 12:38 pm | #3

    I agree with the above, don’t back down, don’t change the name. Contact the EFF (http://www.eff.org/) for advice and possibly legal help. If others received these letters too this could be a big deal for them.

    Send the letter to the management at at the Miami Herald (her newspaper/employer) along with links to the TechDirt, US News and Digg articles with all the comments. I doubt they would want some bad press in this matter and may pressure her to give it up.

    Hang in there, take the money from donations and use them to fight the fight. Maybe a new blog FrugalistasAgainstDumbTrademarks.org woudl be a good way to promote the fight and spend some of those donations…

    Good Luck

  4. amy
    September 23, 2009 at 3:34 pm | #4

    Just thought of something else. If you back down, as well as any other bloggers that received letters from the atty, then that gives her more of a legal standing (?) of her ownership of that word. She’ll be able to say, “See, told them I owned the word and they stopped using it. Just more proof that I own the word.” Also, after reading the blog on US News, I feel better that Target is trying to have their own trademark…Fashionist Frugalista. (Wow, what a mouthful.) They will have to fight this woman for TM use, and they have the money to do it. So after thinking about it, keep using the word, and tell her atty that you’ll stop using it just as soon as Target takes down their special frugalista website. I would also write a letter to the editor of the Herald, along with any competing local newspapers and maybe the TV stations as well. Just a standard letter that gets blasted to EVERYONE in the news biz in SE FL, which includes Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, Palm Beach, etc. The more the folks down there know about this, the more mud gets thrown on this wanna-be frugalista. Fight dirty!

  5. Avatar28
    September 23, 2009 at 7:23 pm | #5

    I saw your request for comments over on TechDirt and had to come over and share my thoughts. I agree with the others. Go with number 3 for now. Call their bluff on it. They haven’t got a case and they know it. If they do try to push on then go to number 4. Seek help from groups like the EFF who may be able to help connect you with a pro bono lawyer willing to take your case. If you do need money to fight it, then accept the donations. Keep a record of both the donations and expenses you pay out. If at the end you have money left over, donate it to a worthy charity or better still, the EFF, to help fight BS like this in the future.

    I would also do what others have said about making as much noise about this as possible.

  6. Avatar28
    September 23, 2009 at 7:28 pm | #6

    Also, as Amy pointed out, caving in just makes them feel validated and only encourages this sort of abuse, by both her and others, in the future. If you don’t want to stand up on this for yourself, then do it for the others. ESPECIALLY if you have people will to help you out financially. Hell, I don’t have a lot of extra money, but if you end up having to fight this thing I would be glad to send a few bucks your way to do my part.

    Does anyone know this other woman’s email address? Perhaps people could mail bomb her and/or her employer and (nicely) explain just what they think of her actions; the lawyer too for that matter. Methinks that if her employer gets enough heat on this they will pressure her to back down on it too, especially once they realize that it is making THEM look bad.

  7. Frugal Gal
    September 23, 2009 at 7:42 pm | #7

    I’ve talked to a couple of lawyer friends of mine who, naturally, are terrified by the idea of me not complying with the cease and desist. Not that don’t think I have a case, but more that they are worried about what would happen to me if I get dragged into court.

    I sent an email to EFF, haven’t heard back. I also have continued to email other potentially-interested bloggers about it and many of them are posting about the issue.

    I wish we could get some more national media exposure (I can’t believe I just typed that). If a major newspaper or news program did a REAL story about it, not online only, I think she would HAVE to back down. Some attorney might decide this is the case for him/her and take it on. A commercial entity with interest in the word could decide $600 is a good investment for them.

    I also assume that any media entity would contact the Trademark Office for an explanation of why they approved the mark. Can’t help but think that might scare them into being more careful about what they sign off on — at the very least, start running a couple of Google searches on the words!

  8. September 23, 2009 at 8:48 pm | #8

    Take the donations, hire a lawyer to shoot back. Hell, have them name her employer (it is a MH blog, isn’t it?) That should get their attention.

    Anything over the amount required, promise to donate to the EFF for these kinds of cases.

  9. PT
    September 23, 2009 at 9:13 pm | #9

    I say #4, but I am ornery. I am also vehemently opposed to people’s right to free speech being derided and trampled upon. It’s a sad day when average Americans aren’t free to speak how they want for fear of being sued. I say take donations and get your information out to internet sites like 4Chan, Ars Technica and other sites to get the techies on your side. Well…actually leave 4Chan alone, they can be kind of dirty for those who don’t know what it is. If you take donations and it can’t pan out you can always donate the money to another organization.

  10. Avatar28
    September 23, 2009 at 9:20 pm | #10

    Frugal Gal :
    I’ve talked to a couple of lawyer friends of mine who, naturally, are terrified by the idea of me not complying with the cease and desist. Not that don’t think I have a case, but more that they are worried about what would happen to me if I get dragged into court.

    IF you get dragged into court. In many cases these letters are sent out as a bluff, knowing they have no standing. Not that this is necessarily one of those cases but it well could be.

    Frugal Gal :
    I sent an email to EFF, haven’t heard back. I also have continued to email other potentially-interested bloggers about it and many of them are posting about the issue.

    That is how I heard about your story. I also emailed the EFF on your behalf (hope you don’t mind) and would encourage others to do likewise.

    Frugal Gal :
    I wish we could get some more national media exposure (I can’t believe I just typed that). If a major newspaper or news program did a REAL story about it, not online only, I think she would HAVE to back down. Some attorney might decide this is the case for him/her and take it on. A commercial entity with interest in the word could decide $600 is a good investment for them.

    Well, US News DID pick up the story, albeit in one of their blogs. But it’s a step closer. You might ask Ms Palmer who wrote that one for more help. She might have a bit more pull to get things accomplished by virtue of her greater exposure.
    http://www.usnews.com/money/blogs/alpha-consumer/2009/09/18/frugalista-debate-one-blogger-stakes-claim.html

    I would definitely contact some of the local news media in Miami about it, particularly some competing papers and TV stations. If they manage to make it look like the MH is against free speech I think they would be really inclined to push he to back off her claims.

  11. September 23, 2009 at 10:11 pm | #11

    Here’s a thought…while you are waiting on the EFF and others for responses, send the law firm a letter asking for clarification. This should buy you some time. It appears in the U.S. News story that the lawyer said it’s just fine to use the term as long as it is not in reference to yourself…..HOWEVER, the C&D asks you to comply with the request to not use the term in any form on any online blog or publication. Those two statements are in direct contradiction with each other. Besides, I’m a bit vindictive and every minute a lawyer is reading your request and putting together a response is a minute billed to little miss I’m-The-Only-Frugalista.

    I know a couple of local lawyers in the areas of patents and trademarks..I’m going to get in touch with them and see what they think as well. Heck, after beating Comcast about the head and shoulders with a large verbal bat for my tech support experience, I’m more than happy to pick up the “vocabulary slugger” to go all Joe Pesci on this MH blogger.

  12. Your Protagonist
    September 24, 2009 at 2:18 pm | #12

    I just saw a Target TV spot for national broadcast that used the word “frugalistas” several times. Don’t back down — these ambulance chasers don’t have a case.

  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: