Sunday, January 30, 2011
UPDATED FEB. 4, 2011, TO ADD: The situation discussed in this post has been resolved. There was some fundraising going on in this post, but since it’s no longer needed for its original cause, I’ve deleted that material and redirected the charitable donation to a new cause.
There’s a terribly unchic situation unfolding in the fashion blogosphere. You may have read about it at Racked, Signature9, Fashionista.com or Liberty London Girl, among other places. Three people — Erin Kleinberg, Stephanie Mark and photographer Jake Rosenberg — launched a new fashion blog called The Coveted. In the words of the founders, the blog “takes you inside the closets of internationally influential cultural forecasters, showing us what culminates in their personal style – one item at a time. The site focuses on curations, styling, and new ways of showcasing the personalization behind fashion’s elite…” So they’re showing you what people who have the best access to fashion are wearing. Personally, this isn’t my cup of tea. I can already see what those people are wearing on any number of street-style blogs and in magazines. Marveling over their wonderful clothes makes as much sense to me as someone being amazed that I have more jewelry than the average person. It’s my job! Of course, I have it! But that’s just me. I know others will be fascinated by what this editor and that stylist have hanging in their closet. If that’s your thing, no problem.
You know what is a problem? My dear friend Jennine Jacob has had a blog called The Coveted since 2007. That’s the same year she started Independent Fashion Bloggers, a community where bloggers can share ideas and find support. (It now has more than 15,000 members.) When the new The Coveted launched, there was confusion about what it was and who ran it. Many of Jennine’s longtime readers thought she’d changed her look and content, then were shocked when they realized it was someone else using her long-established name. Jennine, naturally, was distraught. She contacted a trademark attorney and sent the owners of the new blog a cease and desist letter. The new blog’s lawyer wrote back claiming that his or her clients were “unaware” of Jennine’s site. The lawyer also threatened to sue Jennine. You can see the whole letter here.
I think the “unaware” excuse is disingenuous. Were the new blog’s owners also unaware of Google? Because it’s pretty simple to search for “The Coveted” and see that Jennine’s blog comes up first. When I was naming my jewelry company, I Googled my name to see if there was any other Wendy Brandes in the jewelry business. I’d already experienced identity confusion with a very nice New York lawyer named Wendy Brandes, so I didn’t want anything like that going on in the jewelry world. I didn’t find anything to alarm me so I became Wendy Brandes Jewelry. However, if I had found another jeweler named Wendy Brandes, I would have picked another name for my company, even though my name is undeniably Wendy Brandes. If I could have avoided using my own name to avoid confusion, why couldn’t the fashion-insider founders of “The Coveted” find another name? Is “The Coveted” really the only acceptable name for their work?
UPDATED FEB. 4, 2011: The name of the new site is now The Coveteur.