Frugalista! Frugalista! Frugalista! Now... Where's My Cease And Desist?

from the this-is-getting-silly dept

The term "frugalista" is apparently quite popular, such that the word has even been defined by the Oxford English Dictionary. There are a bunch of bloggers who write about "frugal living" who refer to themselves as "frugalistas." It was a nice little community... until a trademark claim entered into the mess. William alerts us to the news that a blogger (who established her blog long after the word was in common usage) has trademarked the term and is having her lawyer send cease-and-desist letters to other bloggers who refer to themselves as frugalistas. A US News reporter asked the woman's lawyer how it could possibly make sense that she could go after people who used the term before her client did, and the lawyer's response was:
"they all have to stop now."
Except... no. That's not quite how trademark works. But, once again, in a society where people think they get to claim ownership of whatever they want, we end up in silly situations like this. Hopefully the threatened bloggers are able to stand up to the bullying frugalista. Who knew that living the frugalista lifestyle included trademark infringement suits?

Filed Under: blogging, frugalista, trademark


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  1. identicon
    JacksonFrugalista, 23 Sep 2009 @ 11:51am

    Re:

    Hi! I am the blogger in question, Amy Marquez. I live in Jackson, Mississippi, a tiny-little town that could never, ever be confused with Miami.

    This WHOLE THING has been nuts. I did the blog for me and my friends so we could share tips about shoe sales, consignment stores, and the like. The word "frugalista" struck me funny -- it's one of them "new-fangled" words. Plus, I am about the lest "ista" a person can get.

    My blog had gotten MAYBE 40 views before I got my cease and desist letter. Now, I am around 4000.

    I posted the letter, http://jacksonfrugalista.wordpress.com/cease-and-desist-letter-to-jacksonfrugalista/, my arguments against the trademarks (there are 2), http://jacksonfrugalista.wordpress.com/argument-against-trademark-of-frugalista/, and my email response to the attorney and Ms. McNeal, http://jacksonfrugalista.wordpress.com/response-to-cease-and-desist-letter/, on my blog. Check them out -- it's every bit as ridiculous as it seems.

    As far as fighting it -- I have had many people encourage me to fight, going so far as to offering me donations to help fund appeals. I feel REALLY WEIRD about accpeting money from people, even for a justified fight. I didn't set my blog up to generate income and I frankly worry about somehow getting in trouble for accepting any donations.

    That said, $600 is a chunk of change I can't spare. I post under the name "Frugal Gal" -- and I'm frugal for a reason.

    I have added a post asking people to give me their input on what my next steps should be -- change the name and leave it all alone, change the name and keep fighting, don't change the name and see what happens, or don't change the name and accept money to fund a fight. I would appreciate any thoughtful comments anyone might have to add -- http://jacksonfrugalista.wordpress.com/.

    I am not wed to the word "frugalista," but I AM wed to my rights of expression. Not to be melodramatic, but if it's OK for someone to own that word, what other words will be taken away from me/us?

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