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. icon
    wvhillbilly (profile), 25 Sep 2009 @ 9:16pm

    Re: Call me Al

    Ever heard of Monster Cable? For years they went around suing everybody and his dog for using the word "monster" in any commercial context. So I have read, they even sued Disney for using the word in the title of their movie, "Monsters, Inc."

    In a similar case a US shoe manufacturer trademarked the word "Ugg" as in ugg boots, then turned around and sued a bunch of Aussie shoemakers who had been using the word in a generic sense for some thirty years before the US co. grabbed it, for the inside-out sheepskin boots they had been making all that time.

    Microsoft sued Lindows for using a word that resembled "Windows", the name of their operating system, then backed down and paid Lindows a big bunch of money when they realized the court might invalidate their "Windows" TM.

    If I recall correctly, you cannot legally make a trademark of a commonly used word. But people do it anyway and get by with it. So I guess "Frugalista" is just another case of the same.

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