Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Former Miami Herald reporter sends cease-and-desist letters to bloggers

Former Miami Herald reporter Natalie McNeal, who publishes the Frugalista Files, has trademarked the name "frugalista" and is sending out cease and desist letters to other bloggers using that term.

The term "frugalista," which is so widely used that even the Oxford English Dictionary defines it, has now been trademarked by Natalie P. McNeal, a Miami Herald blogger, causing a brouhaha in the world of personal finance bloggers. McNeal's lawyer has been sending letters to other bloggers who call themselves "frugalistas," informing them that they must immediately stop doing so.

While McNeal has apparently gone through the effort of obtaining a trademark, its legitimacy is not entirely clear. Dozens of bloggers already use the term to identify themselves, including a
Frugalista in Los Angeles, a Jackson Frugalista, and one in Japan. Even the retailer Target has filed a trademark application on the term "fashionista frugalista."

Hat tip: Riptide 2.0


Anonymous said...

Ironically, McClatchy would never use a cease and desist order for their “Truth to Poser”, I mean “Truth to Power” motto, as even they don’t believe in it anymore.

Anonymous said...

The posted Cease and Desist letter states that the reporter is the owner of a trademark application. Not a trademark.

Anonymous said...

I am going to apply for a trademark for the pronoun "I". It refers to me, I use it and it belongs to me.

Anonymous said...

Our Frugalista may have shot herself in the ding dong by sending out cease and desist letters before the application was final. I think she is likely to get some opposition to her trademark.

Anonymous said...

Maybe she was being frugal with her legal fees too.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm, cease and desist for already established blogs using the term. hahha

The accused infringer may have better prior rights to the mark, and demand that you cease and desist use of the mark.

Jackson Frugal Gal said...

Hi! I am the Artist Formerly Known as Jackson Frugalista (TOH to Eldon of Utah).

I caved and changed the name — my “buy cool stuff cheap” blog is now http://frugalmississippi.blogspot.com. I am looking forward to posting info about garage sales in Pelahatchie, MS, and such without the threat of a lawsuit.

THAT SAID — I am not willing to let the issue die. So I created a second new blog, “Really Dumb Trademarks.” Its address is http://reallydumbtrademark.blogspot.com.

I CAN’T believe I am the only person this has happened to — other people have had their online freedom of speech cut off because of some ridiculous trademark filing. I’d like us all to have a place to go and vent.

I also want to post resources for site visitors who wish to fight the fight.

Ideally, this new blog will catch the attention of some organization that works to protect individuals’ rights online. If I can get someone like that interested, I’d like to see all the people who offered ME money to help in a fight against Trademark Girl in Miami direct those funds to a larger effort to make trademarks work fairly for everyone.

Those of you who have spoken out on the plain craziness of this trademark, I hope you’ll stay interested in the topic. Maybe we can continue to make some noise, get some things changed, and then I CAN CHANGE MY NAME BACK. And laugh maniacally towards the general direction of Miami.