We have, perhaps, some explanation for the most recent round of Yahoo-mediated attacks on knitting groups using the “stitch n/and/etc. bitch” name.
Deb Stoller has initiated cancellation proceedings against SFSE’s STITCH & BITCH CAFE trademark registration in November, and SFSE filed its answer last week–it’s now available to view. (Honestly, considering the potential cost of challenging a registered trademark, I didn’t seriously think it would escalate this far. I admire Stoller for doing this.)
The basis for cancelling, Stoller argues, is the sheer descriptiveness of “stitch and bitch” to describe crafty gatherings. As the services of SFSE for their trademark are essentially a virtual version of such a gathering, the mark is too descriptive to be registered. The petition to cancel the mark also alleges that SFSE has “taken no action to preclude most third parties from using” monikers similar to “stitch and bitch”, so any value in the mark as a distinctive mark has been destroyed. (There is a “use it or lose it” aspect to trademark rights that does not exist to the same extent in copyright or patent law.) Last week, SFSE denied these allegations (and retained a very good law firm to help them do it).
In the meantime, as you may recall, SFSE applied for a trademark registration for STITCH AND BITCH. A first office action raising objections was issued at the end of December, raising some issues regarding the descriptions and classifications of the goods and services, and objecting to the specimens of use because the examples of usage filed by SFSE read STITCH & BITCH while the application dropped the ampersand in favour of AND. (While SFSE didn’t notice the difference, the examiner did. And I know you all did. While accuracy is required for registration, when it comes to infringement the grammatical or typographical differences are less important.)
But more importantly for those of us who enjoy a little irony, the examiner also raised an objection on the basis of a likelihood of confusion with Deb Stoller’s pending STITCH ‘N BITCH trademark applications against SFSE — precisely the same problem that Stoller has with SFSE’s CAFE trademark.
Don’t worry, I’m sure it will all block out. In the meantime, be good, and don’t post anything publicly that you might have cause to regret later. Like the webmaster at SFSE’s message board and what he said on 43things… at least, before angry SnBers found him out and posted it to the SFSE board.
Don’t click if you don’t want to think about it. Or if someone’s looking over your shoulder.