Saturday, February 03, 2007

Pork, Trademarks, and The Other White Milk

I admit I've been in a blogging funk lately. It's been a long, cold, January (o.k., I know I live in Texas but it's cold for here) and we've all been sick with two colds right in a row (except my husband, who escaped the sinus yuck but got himself food poisoning). Not to mention my 3 boys have birthdays 3 weeks apart from mid-January to early February. So I have some excuse. But today it was sunny and over 50 degrees outside, and Spring approaches...

While I was funking, I got scooped on The Lactivist/Pork Board brouhaha by my fellow blawgers. I mean, any story that contains the words "lawyer" and "breastmilk" has Mommy Blawger written all over it, so to speak. Don't ya think?

On to the story... The Lactivist runs a CafePress store where she sells t-shirts and bumper stickers and such with catchy lactivism phrases such as "Eat at Moms" and "The Other White Milk".


Seems that the National Pork Board, owner (or not?) of the trademark "The Other White Meat", is concerned about trademark infringement and dilution. They sent a nice long cease and desist letter to the Lactivist, who posts here and updates here. To make a long story short, The Lacitivst got lawyered up, all you bloggers and lactivists out there got really busy (Information Week described it as "National Pork Board Stumbles Into Hornet's Nest Of Bloggers"), Cafe Press pulled the slogan immediately so it was a non-issue anyway, and, most satisfactorily, the CEO of the Pork Board issued an apology. All in just three days. Whew.

Lactivist Amy Philo wrote an absolutely hilarious letter to the Pork people.

In addition to a ton of mommy bloggers (including former lawyer Andi Silverman of Momma Knows Breast), lawyers Denise Howell, Ann Bartow of the Feminist Law Professors, and Ted Frank of Overlawyered, all mentioned the situation, and Marty Schwimmer is responsible for the memorable phrase, "Don't send a demand letter to a blogger if the subject matter is breasts, as they make for good copy."

Kaimipono Wenger of Concuring Opinions summed it up best: "Overall, I can't say that this was a bad legal decision. Just a very bad business decision." No kidding.

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