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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.

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41 Responses to “F@#! Yeah! Let’s Support The (Original) Coveted!”

  1. Melissa
    Twitter: jeweldosedaily
    says:

    Hey Wendy! This is upsetting! Where is that petition widget? I’d definitely like to post it on my blog!

    Melissa

    • WendyB
      Twitter: WendyBrandes
      says:

      It seems to be taking a long time to load for me, though I haven’t noticed problems on anyone else’s blog :-(

      I might have to take it out of here and just use the link if it keeps misbehaving!

  2. Cameron
    Twitter: CameronMiquelon
    says:

    We’re gonna need a lot of funds to take those three down a few pegs. I’ll be sure to get the word out.

  3. Candice says:

    That’s totally sleazy of thecoveteddotcom. CovetedCloset or CovetedWardrobe would solve the problem nicely….oh wait, they don’t seem to want to do anything nicely.
    Like you Wendy, I can’t understand the desire to see into the closets of the people they’ll feature, but if they acted professionally, I’d wish them well. It’s like three spoiled children who never got out of the sandbox.
    I haven’t gone to look at their blog because I don’t want to give them hits. But I’ll be clicking onto Jennine’s daily.
    Thanks for taking up Jennine’s cause. I’ll be clcking onto that paypal button as soon as it’s up.

  4. Sister Wolf says:

    I don’t believe we need funds, I believe we need SOLIDARITY and active letter writing and boycotts. No half-assed efforts to stay on the good side with those people. They are unscrupulous, as per the letter send to Jenine.

    It’s not about rings. It’s about exercising power. Think Egyptian.

    • WendyB
      Twitter: WendyBrandes
      says:

      I agree, we need letter-writing and boycotts, but Jennine also needs a lawyer and lawyers cost a fortune. I would not suggest she deal with this without professional help. So funds are, in fact, needed.

  5. Kristin
    Twitter: BonBonRoseGirls
    says:

    And that’s why bloggers rock. We rise up in support when one of us is wronged!

  6. Cybill says:

    Why don’t they just call themselves “The Curated” that title says it all for them. What a stupid situation and all of their own making, honestly – how many words are out there for them to choose from!!!

    • WendyB
      Twitter: WendyBrandes
      says:

      That is hilarious AND brilliant. A few seconds on Google turns up a lot of names like”The Curated Bookshelf” and “The Curated Object” but I don’t see anything named just “The Curated” right away. I do think it describes what they’re showing perfectly!

  7. stacy says:

    This is a great idea! I also think we should make some Team Jennine buttons!

  8. meligrosa
    Twitter: meligrosa
    says:

    TEAM JENNINEEEEE! <333

  9. mystyle says:

    Hi there-wishing Jennine a very speedy conclusion to this situation, how very frustrating and annoying that these three people are acting so ungraciously. Good luck with raising the funds too, you certainly are a fabulous online supergirl, fighting against all the unjustness and unfairness that seems to be going on with your lovely blogger friends xx

  10. Isn’t this whole thing just sickening and terrible. I’ve signed the petition already but will put up the widget later today if I can work out how to do it. As well as behaving so unethically, are they also stupid? They have picked on the one blogger with the most friends and support of anyone out there!!

  11. Grace says:

    how come I don’t see my name when I signed…? i did see this though “Your signature has been delivered to:
    Legal representatives of TheCoveted.com”. hopefully that’s enough.

  12. Pearl Westwood
    Twitter: pearlwestwood
    says:

    This is really awsome of you Wendy, I signed the petition as soon as I heard. xx

  13. Alya says:

    That’s so sad. Even if the content is completely different than hers, the fact that they use the name The Coveted, when she has already had it trademarked, is enough reason for them to change.

    Like you said, they could have googled the name, and hers would have popped up. Come on, there are thousands of names (possibly even more attractive ones) for them to choose from. Your example of choosing a brand name for your jewelry line is a great illustration point. If only they did the same..

  14. Brilliant. Unfortunately at a modest 375 hour (are any lawyers left at modest?) this is a very hefty matter, maybe even a test case. Serious damage really with the confusion of a popular blog being squatted by the thief of the name. It’s a shameless set of scoundrels doing this willing to be called out by the irony of Jennine’s own community.

    The stealing site has blocked comments on their Facebook page. Could they really have been surprised by the angry response of the blogging community?

    And whole lot of willingness to support their site WHEN the name is changed.

  15. Leia says:

    Wendy, thanks so much for this post and all you’re doing for Jennine! You are such an awesome person for doing this. I totally back the original Coveted and will do all I can to help. Going to sign the petition now – the widget isn’t working for me, either.

  16. Do we have to trademark our blog names to keep them from being coopted by others? Thank god BHB is so obscure that no one would want it!
    A couple of years ago we found a weird website had stolen our Beladora name and logo. We had to have our lawyer write a cease and desist letter. Jeannine is going to have to do the same. But I think that she has a good case….maybe you can get Wendy Brandes the lawyer to take Jeannine on a pro bono basis.

    • WendyB
      Twitter: WendyBrandes
      says:

      Yes, she sent the cease & desist and they refused to do either so it’s on to next steps. LOL re Wendy Brandes the lawyer. I think I’ve already made her suffer enough!

  17. I haven’t clicked on the Pretender Coveted yet and won’t until they get on their bikes and sort out the name. I know that they won’t exactly be missing my insignificant views, but maybe if less people clicked and their views diminished then they’d realise the power of blogger solidarity (and the folly of not googling their intended domain name… apparently).

  18. Brandon says:

    What an awesome idea, Wendy. I agree that Jennine does indeed need our financial support as well as our vocal/written support. Will post and tweet this – go Team Jennine!

  19. Tina says:

    Team Jennine! I hope everyone’s efforts will help resolve this situation ASAP in Jennine’s favor.

  20. Someone says:

    F@#! yeah and F@#! them!! What a bunch of pricks. I predict they will get their asses handed to them.

  21. Marguerite says:

    I’ve got it! Why don’t they just call themselves THEJEALOUS.COM and get it over with?

    Thanks for doing this. :)

    • WendyB
      Twitter: WendyBrandes
      says:

      That’s soooooo funny. I think you should start a site with that name to help out all the jealous people in the world. They should stop hiding their jealousy under aggression and just be out and proud. You can help them own their feelings!

  22. YM Ousley says:

    Thank you for saying what I feel should have been said a while ago. I love a good bit of fashion voyeurism as much as anyone else (and like seeing style inspiration in all its forms), but confirming that people who work with pretty, designer clothes do in fact own pretty, designer clothes and like to read about pretty, designer clothes is in no way surprising.

    Much like the borrowed name, the borrowed Selby concept isn’t half as interesting as the original. If the Selby only visited interior design professionals, it wouldn’t have the charm that it does.

    • WendyB
      Twitter: WendyBrandes
      says:

      If I wanted to peek in anyone’s closet, it would be the closet of someone who has collected vintage clothing over many years. That’s interesting to me because it’s a long-term project that involves a lot of serendipity and interesting personal taste — more complicated than being able to go out and buy all the hot stuff of the new season (or swipe it from the fashion closet). An acquaintance of mine once actually let me go through all her vintage clothes. She had lots of good stories about finding pristine Halstons at garage sales for $10. We had the best time! I have a new friend who has lots of clothes from the ’80s and we’re planning to get together to rummage through them one of these days.

      • YM Ousley says:

        Indeed. I don’t have them any more, but two of my favorite dresses now that I think about it were from my grandmother. One was a Pierre Cardin that I thought looked weird at the time, but now it’s the kind of thing I wish I could find in a closet. I never developed the patience for trying to find my size in vintage stores, but I definitely understand the thrill of a find that you know no one else will have.

        I’m not knocking the friends and family discounts or borrowing privileges given to people who work in fashion either, but I just wish their PR agency or whoever’s behind the “this is the bessssst site EVAH! Totally makes using someone else’s name okay” tweets would get some perspective.

        Nice content, nice concept, but not as creative as people are making it seem. Sometimes if you execute an idea well, being totally original doesn’t matter (ex: Facebook > MySpace > Friendster). But the watered down borrowed concept + the fact that these fashion internet geniuses can’t operate a search engine (or pay someone who can) + the “we’re a *website* you’re a blog” attitude equals an execution fail for me, in spite of the rather effective PR.

      • WendyB
        Twitter: WendyBrandes
        says:

        “Sometimes if you execute an idea well, being totally original doesn’t matter” — totally agree. And agree that this is an example of execution fail!

  23. Emma at Daily Clothes Fix
    Twitter: dailyclothesfix
    says:

    What gits! I have signed the petition and retweeted it. Fancy threatening to sue. There’s one blog I won’t be following. How to lose friends and alienate people.

  24. qin says:

    They will be really fun to wear :D

  25. gilda says:

    i finally had time to read through all the sites talking about this. absurd! and soooo nasty! it’s IMpossible that anyone who wants to start a fashion blog doesn’t know about theREALcoveted and ifb. such liars. i hate these type of crazies.

  26. futurelint says:

    #1. This makes me so angry and is my worst blog-related nightmare. It’s ludicrous! #2. Wendy, you are so awesome. It is so inspiring the way you help out bloggers in need!

  27. Marissa
    Twitter: WellAppCatwalk
    says:

    This is such a wonderful, generous thing to do! Good for you, Wendy!

  28. Audi says:

    Poor Jennine; I hope this gets resolved satisfactorily for her. I already signed the petition, and I’ll see if I can figure out how to get the widget up on my blog. It’s wonderful of you to help her out, Wendy.

  29. liz says:

    Signed the petition. It’s so disgusting and ridiculous, there is just no way that they didn’t know about her site. Had they started with another name, I’m sure lots of bloggers would support them, rather than the backlash they’re receiving.

  30. Amy
    Twitter: pintucked
    says:

    This is great! I was wondering when a legal fund would be started. I’m donating right now!

  31. Thanks for the shout-out! I’m so glad this has been resolved.. Whew! <3