She limps along

When we last left our tragic protagonist, she had cowardly booted Ninja slightly northward to be finished off (actually, restarted and completed in its entirety) by the real heroine. Look: photographic evidence (dated August 22) of its completion. Have I mentioned recently that Wannietta is better than five of me continuously working in a caffeinated state, plus she can drive a bus?

Of course, after that, the pattern had to be multisized. That took a few more days. This pattern has eight charts. (While three of them are so simple they don’t actually need to be charted, this is compensated by the fact that one chart is 80+ rows long without repeats and the remaining four charts, which do repeat, also have finials because they all begin differently. And two of them end differently, too.)

The stitch v. bitch tag lives on, too. Remember that cancellation proceeding against the STITCH & BITCH CAFE mark? No? That’s all right, because not much has happened. Discovery was scheduled to close on August 8. The parties requested an extension of time from the TTAB (Trademark Trial and Appeal Board) to November 8. The reason given was that the parties were engaged in settlement discussions (which to my cynical self suggests that the parties probably had some form of settlement discussion, the lawyers were hoping that this would go away, but when it didn’t the parties had to actually had to examine each other’s representatives so they needed more time; so far, no notice of a settlement). The extension of time was granted, which was to be expected.

So really, no news there. On the other hand, there’s a development in SFSE’s pending trademark application for STITCH & BITCH. And that development is that… there will not be any news in the near future. If you wish, follow along with the document listing here.

As you might recall (or might not), after Deb Stoller filed her four trademark applications for STITCH ‘N BITCH and the SFSE v. people-who-used-”stitch and bitch”-or-a-variant-thereof-to-reference-their-knitting-groups-on-teh-internets! thing started up, SFSE filed a trademark application for STITCH AND BITCH themselves. This application was filed on June 1, 2005, and in the application they sought to claim that their use of the mark had started at least as early as November 1998.

There was just a little problem with this application: technically they were using STITCH & BITCH before this time; whether you consider the additional CAFE bit to be part of their trademark or not, it was an ampersand, not the word “and”. Evidently this discrepancy wasn’t noticed, and the specimens of use that were filed in support of the application contained the ampersand. This discrepancy was duly noted by the Examiner, who issued an office action on December 28, 2005 requisitioning either a new drawing of the applied-for mark, a substitute specimen showing the mark as applied for, or an amendment of the application on the basis of intent-to-use (i.e., an application for a mark that had not actually been used by the applicant yet).

The latter option, of course, would scuttle any claim to use since 1998. So in June 2006, SFSE filed a new drawing — the application is now for STITCH & BITCH, with the ampersand. (If you’re following along with the dates, yes, stuff often gets done very close to the deadline. Don’t read anything into the fact that patent and trademark prosecution often cuts close to a deadline.)

The Examiner also cited two of Deb Stoller’s pending STITCH ‘N BITCH trademark applications (the one for books, and the one for knitting kits) against SFSE’s applied-for mark as being potentially confusing. SFSE didn’t submit arguments regarding this issue, and so this week the USPTO suspended SFSE’s STITCH & BITCH trademark application — meaning, that prosecution will resume once it is determined whether one of those two STITCH ‘N BITCH marks will be registered.

This is not a “good” or “bad” thing, if you’re keeping score. The suspension is a way for the USPTO to save itself, and possibly SFSE, needless work: if Deb Stoller gets one of those two STITCH ‘N BITCH registrations, then prosecution of STITCH & BITCH will resume, and SFSE will have to submit arguments about confusion. If she doesn’t get either of those two registrations, then prosecution of STITCH & BITCH will resume, and SFSE will be spared the trouble of arguing against confusion with one of Deb Stoller’s marks. And of course, the dust will not settle on the STITCH ‘N BITCH applications until the cancellation proceeding is ended one way or another.

Clear? Oh, good. Because we’re not quite done.

If we were to assume that Deb Stoller failed to get her trademark registrations for STITCH ‘N BITCH and SFSE proceeded with its STITCH & BITCH application, and if we were to assume further that SFSE’s application were approved for advertisement, it would have to go through an opposition period in which interested parties could object to the application. An opposition, in a sense, is like a cancellation proceeding, except the opposition relates to a pending application and not a registered mark. So even if the STITCH & BITCH CAFE mark survives the cancellation proceeding, it doesn’t mean the spectator sport is over.

I know what you’re thinking. I can’t believe more people don’t make trademarks their career choice. Such drama!

And if that’s not enough for you, here’s Whip Up’s review of Rip It!, the book by Elissa Meyrich that promises to give voice to your inner designer (that’s a paraphrase). Enjoy.

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4 Responses to She limps along

  1. j. says:

    Well, Deb Stoller’s precise plans for her STITCH ‘N BITCH brand would be known to her alone, really. Her trademark applications specify specific goods and services for her trademark, which does not purport to cover groups or gatherings. While we do know that she herself has asked at least one group to stop selling accessories with a specific variant of “stitch” and “bitch”, to my knowledge she has never objected to any individual non-commercial group going by a stitch-and-bitch type name — only the sale of certain items.

    But she is not the one that has been shutting down online groups; that’s SFSE.

    But trademarks can include common phrases: see here.

  2. hege says:

    I read that one of the arguments used by Debbie Stoller’s for why SFSE should not get this trademark was that the expression Stitch ‘n Bitch was in use by sewing and knitting clubs for decades. So then why is she attempting to trademark it herself? It seems that that argument could be used against her as well. I had a Stitch and Bitch group, long before any of this (1991), and I find it pretty irritating that a common phrase like that should be trademarked. Anybody should be able to name their group SnB and should be able to have a website for it. Is there a guideline for deciding what is “common usage”?

    Thanks for all your interesting information.

  3. Wannietta says:

    Awwww shucks ma’am, t’weren’t nothin’ much. You were swell too and the way you stared down them thar publishers fer a deadline extension – that were worth an extry log on the fire t’hear the legend told.

    Seriously – it was fun (I’m a bit – okay a lot – sadistic like that) and I’m really excited that it’s going to be available in such a great size range. The maths that you’re going to have to do to bring this to the people – now that’s heroic! (Is the book ready yet? Huh? What ’bout now?)

  4. Lynne E. says:

    I’m dying to see Ninja, as I love your complicated cable designs! It’s too bad that the STITCH ‘N BITCH trademark controversy exists, but your pragmatic comments always make for interesting reading.