An evidentiary object-lesson (now with even more edits)

The word is that the link to the letter referenced in the last post doesn’t work any more. All that happened was that the HTML file was edited. The underlying file, statement.swf, is still there. All you need to do is look at to see it.

But even if the file is removed, never fear. I think that half of the Internet knitting community either saved a copy or took screenshots — check LissaKay’s comment to my last post (#10). If that Flash file disappears from the SFSE website, I’ve got my screenshots ready to go.

Edited to add: Yup, there it is, back again. It wasn’t loading at all earlier.

And then edited again to add: Jess called it (in the comments): one of the spelling mistakes on the second page of the letter was corrected. Another one of the spelling mistakes on the second page was half-corrected. Too bad he didn’t correct the mistake he made in typing Deb Stoller’s name.

And once again: It’s gone, again. But now you can see that there are some new ground rules at the SFSE forum: “No deliberate direction to advertising of any Stitch and Bitch books will be allowed.”

You’ve been warned. But it’s a strange conundrum for a business; you might recall that when SFSE supplied its specimens of use for its trademark application for STITCH AND BITCH, it supplied a photograph of a workbook with “Stitch & Bitch” printed on the cover. Some clarification of the injunction against forum advertising might be needed.

I’ll be editing this post one more time today to post a link to my commentary on the letter as originally posted. Here–page 1, page 2. It’s not a legal analysis–it’s just scrawled notes of what went through my head when I read wrote (duh) it. No guarantees about legibility.

I don’t normally mark up a letter to this degree when I’m working. If this had been a letter presented to me by an articling student or a junior, I would have started making notes for the first paragraph or two, then given up and just called the writer into my office.

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24 Responses to An evidentiary object-lesson (now with even more edits)

  1. j. says:

    Because of an excess of spam, I’ve closed comments on this post. If you have a comment to leave please find another, more recent post in the stitch v bitch category and leave your comment there.

  2. j. says:

    Earlier today, I did actually think to myself, “what if I was in SFSE’s position, and I needed to write a letter to the crafting community to explain why we were shutting down Yahoo groups, and how we feel we’re being persecuted by the public?”


  3. Amie says:

    J, someone ought to post your version over at their forum. Maybe Gregie Poo could learn a lesson on spelling and composition, and how to write with a professional voice.

  4. j. says:


  5. Robin says:

    Quick note, the link to page 1 gives an error because it has a double quote mark at the end of the URL.

  6. j. says:

    Wow, I love Yahoo.

    About the First Amendment: ignoring the issue about *where* individuals are located and what human rights guarantees apply to them online, in fact, an Internet provider *could* have the right to revoke a user’s privileges on the basis of some perceived civil wrong. That’s what terms of service are for–it’s the contract between the user and the ISP. That’s how Yahoo was able to yank the Stitch and Bitch groups without any further investigation than (probably) checking to verify that SFSE had a trademark registration for something vaguely resembling a group name. (And, by the way, if the beef that a trademark owner had with a group was that the group was posting unflattering comments, it might even be possible to trump up a trademark infringement allegation because of the usage of the trademark in those comments. Yeah, I know, but I did say “trump”.)

    However, I do agree that the premise is ridiculous, because there are two different service providers (well, could be more than two, but let’s not worry about that) in these types of communications–the one hosting the board, and the one providing Internet access to the user posting opinions. Any negative comments on the board are being hosted by SFSE’s ISP, and they’re at liberty to delete anything they don’t like and to ban the user’s IP address. There’s no point reporting a complaint to *that* ISP. The user’s own ISP probably doesn’t give a flip–in fact, there may be laws that specifically exempt that ISP from liability for the user’s behaviour as long as certain conditions are met.

  7. Jenn says:

    In crazy news of the day, if you log onto the yahoo groups home page, they have a cute little yarn/needle icon next to the words “Stitch ‘n’ Bitch.” This is after they shut down my yahoo group for using the same words. Nice!

  8. LissaKay says:

    OMG … look at the main Yahoo Groups page.
    And ya’ll know I got a screenie ….


  9. Erika says:

    Whups! It’s gone again. now produces an Apache 404 error.

  10. anne says:

    i was reading a little abut this controversy concerning stitch ‘n’ bitch with amusement. years ago, in the 80s, when i lived WAY uptown in manhattan (157th st), i used to meet with friends weekly to sew, knit, and talk. there were many older ladies in our building, well into their 80s, and when they found out about it, several mentioned that we were participating in a “stitch n bitch,” something THEY had done as young mothers. this was also confirmed by a friend’s mother from long island, ny, who had used the phrase all HER life. years later, when i heard about the knitting group stitch n bitch which met in manhattan, i thought, well it’s not so original, they stole that one! interesting that someone is fighting over it now . . .

  11. Lissy says:

    These folks are not only overzealous, but ignorant. This statement is unbelievable, not to mention toothless and just plain bluff:

    “Warning: any person continuing to do this will be reported to their Internet service provider and local authorities.”

    They do not seem to understand the First Amendment. It is not illegal to slander anyone (and furthermore, this is a question of fact for a jury, not based on SFSE or the internet provider’s opinion), and an internet provider has no right to revoke usership for what amounts to at most a civil wrong but on the face of it is nothing more than someone voicing their opinion in a non-malicious manner. Moreover, I seriously doubt any authorities will want to get involved on behalf of some penny-ante claim of people badmouthing an insignificant company such as SFSE. Their histrionics would be funny if they weren’t so downright un-American.

  12. Yvonne says:

    There’s a good description of what can constitute a valid trademark here:

  13. Carrie says:

    You kinda have to feel sorry for SFSE’s lawyers. I mean, every time this guy (Garvin? Is that his name?) pulls one of these little “stunts”, like nicknaming Ms. Stoller, or (allegedly) writing nasty emails to various people, the poor lawyers are likely banging their heads against the nearest wall, trying to figure out how to contain his childish rants. Yikes, what a job.

  14. Kristin says:

    I’m wondering….what does it take exactly for a phrase to be so common that it can’t actually be trademarked (like the word “Cafe”)?

  15. Vivienne says:

    The BBC in the East of England offered two “Stitch and Bitch” mentions tonight – one on a local current affairs magazine that was covering the knitting revival:-

    (right down the bottom and the rather attractive snowboarder is actually crocheting but I’m not complaining)

    And over on BBC2 at 8.30 as the answer to a question on University Challenge, the actual question having probably been along the lines of “title of a best-selling book by American feminist Debbie Stoller” but I wasn’t entirely listening, I was counting stitches. 263 of them.

    This is probably slightly irrelevant, but I enjoyed it. I also enjoy the coincidence that the BBC is widely known as Auntie Beeb, or simply Auntie.

  16. Steph says:

    All this shows that SFSE is “feeling it”. Is anyone keeping a supporters vs detractors score card?

  17. AndreaR says:

    I am absolutely stunned that SFSE is paying money to lawyers and their “Marketing Manager”. They really should seek a second legal opinion which would tell them to stop spending their time and money on this, just drop it and issue a fast apology to Debbie Stoller et al. Right after they take 2 minutes to check the US trademark web site to find out that they really don’t own “Stitch n’Bitch”. I’m really surprised this is still going on!

    Of course I posted a link to the boycott of SFSE on my blog…

  18. Scout says:

    Darn. It felt so good when he attached me!

  19. Laura says:

    He seems to have realized the difference between ‘coping’ and ‘copying’ as well. In any other company, I would expect him to be coping with finding another employer by now.

  20. j. says:

    Good eyes!

    But the last paragraph of the letter seems to provide an exception to the zero tolerance policy, if you read it the right way. Garvin writes “there should be no attackes [sic] or mean spirited comments against any other person” [emphasis added]. Har.

  21. Jess says:

    It looks as if the up & down nature of the page in question might’ve been due to attempts to correct the typos/spelling errors. Now, the letter mostly spells “attacks” properly (with a K instead of an H), except for on the last page, where they still can’t seem to get it right.

    I think it’s interesting that SFSE is espousing a zero tolerance policy on verbal attacks on their website, while publically posting verbal attacks against Deb Stoller. The more I follow this disagreement, the more disorganized and unprofessional the whole things seems (on the part of SFSE, that is). Thanks for posting your summaries & opinions.

  22. J Strizzy says:

    Man, they couldn’t even hit spellcheck?

  23. Scout says:

    I was just there and it looks like it’s back up?

  24. Scout says:

    Wow….boy wonder is such an idiot.