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
    JD, 23 Sep 2009 @ 11:31pm


    Why are you all harrassing a person who popularized the term, filed a Trademark Application, took it through the legal process and received registration? Where were you other so called "Frugalistas" during the trademark "notice period" . The trademark notice period is the time to raise objections. Raising complaint for a personal agenda on this a blog is completely without merit. McNeal is exercising her legal rights and protecting a term that has been distinctive to her since 2008. McNeal is well established as the Frugalista. When she appears on TV, she is called The Frugalista. When you Google, Frugalista, her blog appears at the top of the search engine rankings. The others protesting here used the term after Ms. McNeal registered it. She has used the term Frugalista to describe her blog and has used it distinctively. This is why she was GRANTED a Trademark by the Patent & Trademark office! Everyone can a have blog, but they should not call their blog Frugalista as that term has become distinctive to McNeal. Do a simple online Trademark search before putting a product into the market. Target is using McNeal's Trademark in an ad campaign, without license or permission. Target filed for use of Frugalista Fashionista (this is a matter of public record, look it up), which is the two words used together. So, how do they now infringe on McNeal's mark by running an ad campaign which does not use the mark they have filed for registration of, but rather use McNeal's mark, the one work, Frugalista.

    In this case, Frugalista applies distinctively to Ms. McNeal's blog, The Frugalista Files. Moreover, she is the person who she writes about in her blog who is living a frugal lifestyle.

    What is wrong with big business today, Target, and copy cat bloggers taking the trademark of another and misappropriating it and then whining about it on a blog to pressure a small business owner like Natalie McNeal who is merely exercising her legal rights as they have been granted by the US Trademark office? Have you looked any of this up in the PTO RECORDS? Your reporting is biased. Frugalista is # 3532912 in the US Trademark Database. Did you check your facts prior to publishing this rot? This reads like a personal attack on someone who had an innovative idea and sought to legally protect it.

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