Thursday, January 12, 2006

Stitchin & Bitchin

I got the following lovely missive from the fine folks at Yahoo today:

Sew Fast/Sew Easy Inc. has notified Yahoo! Inc. ("Yahoo!") that service and/or trademark(s) proprietary to Sew Fast/Sew Easy Inc. were used in connection with the
Yahoo!® Group Stitch_n_bitch_arkansas. Sew Fast/Sew Easy Inc. has further notified Yahoo! that the Stitch_n_bitch_arkansas group is not authorized to use the mark(s) in question. Yahoo! respects the rights of both its users and the owners and rights holders of intellectual property. Accordingly, Yahoo! intends to expeditiously remove or disable access to the mark(s) in question. PLEASE BE ADVISED THAT UNLESS THE MARK(S) IN QUESTION ARE REMOVED FROM THE GROUP AND GROUP URL, OR ACCESS TO THE MARK(S) IN THE GROUP AND GROUP URL ARE DISABLED, WITHIN FORTY-EIGHT (48) HOURS, YAHOO! INTENDS TO DISABLE ACCESS TO YOUR GROUP.

After I calmed down and stopped thinking about flying out to Sew Fast Sew Sleazy headquarters to kick people in the shins, I emailed Debbie Stoller & Yahoo then tried to call SFSE at the phone number provided at the bottom of the spiffy little warning letter. NOBODY ANSWERED THEIR PHONE. They know what they've done and they don't want to talk about it I guess.
I'm not the type of gal to take not answering the phone for an answer so I also emailed them asking couldn't we compromise by posting a disclaimer of some kind with a link to their website on our main page? I got a form letter type deal telling me the penalties for trademark infringement. I take that as a no.
Debbie wrote me back pronto saying she was about to go meet with her lawyers and that she'd let me know what they said by tomorrow. I went ahead to my weekly SNB meeting, and her answer was in my in-box by the time I got home. (How many other "big name" people are that responsive to what must have been at least 50-60 emails or more since SFSE threatened all the groups using Stitch N Bitch in their titles? Yay for Debbie.) This was the answer that she sent to me and posted to the groups:

Dear Stitchers 'n Bitchers:
It has come to my attention that the moderators of a number of Stitch 'n Bitch groups who host their mailing lists using Yahoo Groups' free mailing list services have received notices from Yahoo advising them that they must delete the wording STITCH N BITCH from their Yahoo!Group URL and any references to STITCH N BITCH in the GROUP itself. This notice is a result of an objection filed by Sew Fast Sew Easy Inc., a New York company, who is claiming rights to this wording.
A number of you have been emailing me asking what to do. I have spoken about this matter with my attorneys. First of all, please realize that you are not being asked in this notice to change the name of your actual knitting group, just the group designation you use on the Yahoo group and Yahoo URL, if you want to keep using their free email services. Unfortunately, there is no immediate recourse with Yahoo other than to make the change at this time. They require this as soon as anybody makes any kind of claim--they do not evaluate the merits of the claim. This being the case, one idea is to simply change any references to STITCH n BITCH in your Yahoo Group name to some alternative such as SNB (i.e, StitchnBitch-NYC would become SNB-NYC. Easier to type, too!) Your group moderator can easily make this change via the Yahoogroups control panel.
I know how much we value these lists as a way to communicate with our groups, and I think we should all try to avoid the possible loss of our group lists if Yahoo proceeds with a shut down. Also, I'd like you to remind you that the group moderator can export the members list at any time (just go to "members" then "export"), and save it somewhere special.
Finally, if you decide to change your Yahoo Groups name or move your list, please be sure to have some one from your group let Brenda know so she can change it on her site.

Debbie Stoller

I went ahead and changed my group name to hopefully avoid having it deleted, but dammit. This is WRONG! I hope there is eventually some kind of court battle to silence these assholes. The name they have trademarked is "Stitch and Bitch Cafe" in reference to SEWING, not knitting, and the term is more widely linked with Debbie's books and with knitting in general than with sewing. A simple Google Search will clue you in on that. It is FAR more likely someone would stumble upon them while searching for us, and I really doubt anyone would be confused.

They started harassing people about 8 or 9 months ago.
For more details on this saga, check out the recap on Girl From Auntie. Follow all the links there, and your blood will be boiling.
I will NEVER buy any of their company's products and you shouldn't either.

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