In response to some comments, and in response to some of the general reaction posted in other public fora.
First, I’d think that Stoller would be concerned because she has her own pending TM applications in the US. Potentially the older, registered, STITCH & BITCH CAFE could be cited against Stoller’s applications during examination of her trademark applications, so of course she’d be interested (I haven’t examined the wares and services to see what kind of overlap exists).
I gave away my copy of SnB a long time ago, but I don’t think that Stoller claimed to coin the phrase or invent the concept (tell me if I’m wrong)–I think she just resurrected the practice. And there seems to be anecdotal evidence posted on the net going both ways–yes, there were gatherings called “stitch and bitch”, no, there weren’t, or if there were, they were sewing related. Whatever.
I think the point that is being missed in a lot of the invective is that this is a trademark issue. It’s not copyright: you don’t magically become entitled to rights simply because you think you independently coined a name, phrase or word. You have to do something with the name (either register it as a trademark, or develop goodwill associated with it in a business context) in order to earn those rights. A brief explanation (Canadian law, of course) here. A good summary of US trademark infringement can be found here.
And it’s not about who came up with the concept of “stitch and bitch” either as an event or as a phrase first. Trademarks can make use of common language; slogans don’t make much sense if they don’t use words out of the language in which the target market communicates, right? Somewhere in a comment or post, someone referred to a Citibank promotion using the phrase “thank you.” As an example, there is a US trademark registration for THANK YOU VERY MUCH (not owned by Citibank) for use in association for conducting seminars and training courses in the field of customer service. That doesn’t mean that the general public is entitled to be rude and stop saying “thank you very much” to each other. It means that anyone else in the US offering similar services in association with that phrase risks infringing a registered trademark. Certainly that trademark owner didn’t “invent” the phrase “thank you very much,” and they’d be hard pressed to prove that there would be consumer confusion because individuals were using the phrase in casual conversation. Nevertheless, the fact that they didn’t coin the “thank you very much” doesn’t mean that they’re not entitled to trademark rights for their particular usage of the phrase.
Oh… and like others, I’ve been trying to figure out the reasoning behind the rebuttal on the SFSE guestbook, “Every attack you post, raises the value for the use of our intellectual properties…” The only thing I can figure is that with each visit to the page, their hit count increases, which they could use to either demonstrate the value of the goodwill they have associated with their mark, to demonstrate that they are indeed using their mark in association with an online forum, or to demonstrate depreciation of their goodwill by angry posters.