Because knitters are like Canadians…

… and they’re thrilled with any mention in the international press.


The Economist, February 4, 2006, page 29 (North American edition)

You can’t quite make it out, but that subtitle says “What Texans do when they’re not herding steers”. The article focuses on Texas knitters before briefly describing the rest of the international community.

And a close-up:

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6 Responses to Because knitters are like Canadians…

  1. 3c says:

    I’m really sorry to see that The Economist framed this in terms of Texas (isn’t that vaguely derogatory from the get-go in most of Europe right now?!), even if it was only a puff-piece/sidebar.

    I think all the SnB groups on Yahoo who were unwillingly sucked into this controversy just for using a common term to describe their groups (and that is merely *applied for* vs. granted wrt to the complaint and if SFSE was honest about it — am I following this all correctly?!) might take exception to it being framed as a Texas thing, it seems like more of a urban center thing, “sue the bastards!!! invoke your potential legal rights!!!”

    I’m guessing that some of the people who are pissed off at SnB being controversial might also be some of the same people who think civil rights are BS where other subjects are concerned, like if you have nothing to hide, why would illegal search and seizure (or illegal discovery or illegal wiretaps, etc.) be a problem? Oh wait, this is us and we don’t like people using the legal system as an argument to cut off our groups?!

    Then again, it’s publicity, just spell all the names right? It will be interesting to see how it all turns out.

  2. Lani says:

    J – Thank you so much for your detailed response. It makes a lot more sense to me now, especially the “cancellation proceedings.” Boy, was I confused on that particular point! It will be very intersting to see how this all unravels. (sorry!)

  3. Steph says:

    Hey, we haven’t received that issue yet.

    It must be news if it made The Economist.

  4. monkeemaven says:

    It’s all about the Texans.

  5. j. says:

    Hi, Lani.

    1) SFSE first appeared to take some action around May 2005 (or earlier?), when it started using the IP policy at CafePress to stop stitch and bitch groups selling merchandise with phrasing similar to “stitch and bitch”.

    This is speculation on my part, but perhaps it didn’t occur to them that they could do anything until it was brought to their attention that the examiner reviewing Deb Stoller’s US trademark applications for STITCH ‘N BITCH considered that there was too much potential confusion between Stoller’s mark and STITCH & BITCH CAFE, SFSE’s registered mark, to allow Stoller to have a registration (this is not a finding of infringement). Up until then, the odd person had posted to SFSE’s guestbook under the impression that they were responsible for that hugely successful knitting book; we don’t know what else SFSE might have experienced as a result of the success of Stoller’s book.

    SFSE may have been under the impression that they couldn’t do anything because they might have thought that knitting items (Stoller’s description of goods and services) and sewing items (SFSE’s domain) were too dissimilar. They may have thought that maybe the whole knitting thing would just blow over, but then of course the second Stoller book was announced, then published in late 2004. They might have thought that the CAFE part of their mark prevented them from acting. So maybe, when they realized that this wasn’t necessarily the case, they decided to act. But only SFSE can explain, if it needs explanation.

    2) Yahoo is only involved to the extent that its terms of service are involved. Any IP rightsholder who believes it has a complaint of infringement against a user of Yahoo services can file a complaint, and Yahoo (after reviewing the complaint) will take action — this could involve shutting down a user’s account, requiring name changes, etc. Yahoo does not investigate the merits of the allegation of infringement in depth; likely they just make sure it isn’t completely specious. Yahoo’s just trying to protect itself from dire legal consequences.

    3) It’s not copyright infringement, it’s a trademark issue. (Few titles — of websites, books, companies, whatever — merit copyright protection.) And it’s not actually a trademark infringement issue between Stoller and SFSE, unless SFSE is treating it that way (but we’re not privy to the communications between the two parties). As far as we know between Stoller and SFSE, it’s a fight to see if Stoller can get her trademarks registered. The trademark applications are in Stoller’s name, not Workman’s.

    It’s a good point to ask whether, if there’s trademark infringement going on, Workman might be on the hook. But it’s probably premature to explore it. Plus, we don’t know what kind of arrangement might exist between Stoller and Workman.

    4) Sure ;-)

    5) Stoller, not SFSE, initiated the cancellation proceedings. Cancellation proceedings before the USPTO seek to cancel a registered trademark. Stoller is trying to remove an obstacle to her trademark applications.

    6) Again, it could simply be that they didn’t realize until 2004-2005 that maybe they should do something. For example, a single book title might just be a coincidence. But only later developments demonstrated that Stoller was seeking to develop a brand.

    Here’s another example where a trademark holder might ask herself, “Well, should I react, and how far should I take it? Should I just assume this was just a one-off, or is this going to hurt me?”

    CHICKNITS (US Reg. 3054197)

    Registered, of course, by Bonne Marie Burns (the doyenne of PDF knitting patterns). (She also has another application for CHIC KNITS, two words, pending.)

    By coincidence, a book of knitting patterns was published last year, with the title Chic Knits. If I were Bonne Marie, I’d have pondered my options, and wondered whether there was any plan by the publisher or author to start using Chic Knits as a trademark.

    (While the US will not allow a registration for a one-off title of a book, it will allow a registration for a series title — note that Stoller has at least four books published and/or planned with STITCH ‘N BITCH in the title. But just because you can’t get a registration on the basis of one book title doesn’t mean you can’t start using that book title as a trademark; it’ll just have to be unregistered until you can establish a use that the Trademarks Office will recognize.)

  6. Lani says:

    I’m just getting up-to-speed on the Stitch v. Bitch debacle. I’m not sure I have all the details straight yet, but I do have a few comments and questions to any knitters in the cyber universe who may care to reply.

    1) Deb Stoller’s SnB was first published in 2003 with Nation following in 2004. Why did SFSE wait until the end of 2005 to initiate legal action?

    2) How/why is Yahoo involved in this?

    3) Wouldn’t the responsibility fall to Workman Publishing and not the author to research whether or not a book title somehow violates any copyright infringement?

    4) With regard to Gregory’s letter, he must either be an owner or closely related to an owner if he is still “Marketing Manager” or in any other way employed by SFSE. Maybe it’s not the legal definition of insane, but I’m calling it insane just the same.

    5) Apparently, I don’t understand “cancellation proceedings.” If SFSE is cancelling its complaint, why was Gregory’s rant letter (cough) dated just a few days ago?

    6) Lastly, in part based on Gregory’s letter and in part based on the timing (see item 1), it seems to me that this entire legal complaint is a personal attach, oops, I mean attack against Debbie Stoller. If SFSE was really concerned about their copyright, why wasn’t this issue raised in the wake of the first SnB publication? It all seems very fishy to me.

    Thank you for covering this issue so cohesively and giving us knitters a place to discuss this.