Last week, the U.S. Olympic Committee sent a cease-and-desist letter to a bunch of knitters who had found a creative way to get together and watch the Olympics. While copyright infringement notices happen all the time, this one seemed a particularly far-fetched target for the USOC’s wrath.You can read the rest of that story at the Washington Post. I found a related story this week at the StarTribune:
The knitters — and crocheters, spinners and other fiber enthusiasts — are members of a social-networking site called Ravelry, which has been a haven for fiber artists since 2007: It’s a bulletin board, marketplace and discussion forum rolled into one.
In 2008, Ravelry members launched the Ravelympics, a tongue-in-cheek event that has continued every two years since, in which crafters set themselves specific goals, start their projects during the Opening Ceremonies of the Olympic Games and have to have them finished by the end of the Closing Ceremonies.
Not any more — at least not under that name.
“We believe using the name ‘Ravelympics’ for a competition that involves an afghan marathon, scarf hockey and sweater triathlon, among others, tends to denigrate the true nature of the Olympic Games,” said the USOC’s letter, which Ravelry’s founder, Casey Forbes, posted on the site on June 20. “In a sense, it is disrespectful to our country’s finest athletes and fails to recognize or appreciate their hard work.”
[Amy] Brooks, of Rochester, sells handcrafted soaps that are designed to reduce skin irritation to cancer patients as they go through therapy. A cancer survivor herself, Brooks has been selling soap under the name Bubbles by Brooks for 10 years...
Brooks is the subject of a trademark objection by Brooks Brothers, the giant Connecticut-based clothier which also has a line of fragrances and self-described "cleansing products." Brooks Brothers wants Bubbles by Brooks to withdraw its trademark application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office or face "potentially costly litigation."..
In its letter to Brooks demanding that she withdraw her trademark application, attorneys for Brooks Brothers said, "Though 'Brooks' may be your surname, it does not give you the right to infringe on the Brooks Brothers trademark or otherwise compete with Brooks Brothers."
In an interview, Brooks told the Star Tribune: "I've grown every year for the last 10 years by word of mouth. I could change my [company's] name, but then there's the domino effect. I have custom printed boxes, website domains. What does that affect? Absolutely everything."..
Brooks said her attorneys told her it would cost $200,000 to fight Brooks Brothers' opposition to her trademark request.
"I don't have that," Brooks said. "It's wrong what they're doing."