Thursday, January 19, 2006

Best Quote I Heard All Day
If we use common words on a great occasion, they are the more striking, because they are felt at once to have a particular meaning, like old banners, or everyday clothes, hung up in a sacred place.--George Eliot

You may or may not be aware of the attempt by a company called Sew Fast/Sew Easy Inc. (aka SFSE) to assert its trademark rights on the term "Stitch and Bitch." If you have not heard about this, click on the button above to read what's going on.

Yesterday I was reading You Knit What, which is one of my favorite blogs and one that I read every day. I had heard that because of SFSE's claim to the phrase "Stitch and Bitch," a number of Yahoo groups and local knitting meet-ups had been warned to cease and desist using the term "Stitch and Bitch," Stitch & Bitch" or "Stitch 'n' Bitch" in their group names. Yahoo has now forced these groups to delete the term from their names, and other groups throughout the country are in the same boat. Debbie Stoller is trying to stop the trademark registration from going through.

However, I did not realize that it had gotten to the point of duelling attorneys. And this is completely absurd. Punk Rock Knitter and Knittykitty, YKW's bloggers, have set up a CafePress deal to support the legal battle. If you are interested in the legal aspect, read Up The Ante at The Girl From Auntie. Jenna is an attorney and knows her stuff.

The actions taken by SFSE to "enforce" their claim to the phrase are outrageous. And what a poor business move on their part, to alienate so many knitters, particularly since they also sell to knitters (God knows who) and are apparently publishing a knitting book called Rip It.

Whoever SFSE is, and I've been sewing since I was 14 and never heard of them, they can hardly claim any rights to Stitch and Bitch, Stitch 'n' Bitch or however you wish to spell the phrase. It's been used for years, and long before they even conceived of their "Stitch and Bitch Cafe," something that I'd never heard of prior to this flap.

The term "Stitch and/& /'n' Bitch" is one that I've always found kind of silly, but it means a lot to many knitters. And it's exactly that: a phrase. When I was teaching knitting at The Chubb Institute several years ago, one of my students, who had absolutely no prior needlework experience, began calling our Wednesday lunch classes "Stitch and Bitch." This was before Debbie's book was published and before Meet-up existed. She had had no previous exposure to any craft. What does that tell you?

Obviously, if the phrase were clearly unique and one that could be completely identified with SFSE without any question, there would be no conflict. Without any legal knowledge on my part, I would think that "Stitch and Bitch Cafe" might be unique to them and indeed could be a registered trademark. Nobody in the knitting world is trying to keep them from doing business. However, to trademark any form of Stitch and Bitch is tantamount to trying to trademark any number of cutesy phrases seen in knitting. Think about all the similar yarn shop names around the country and then tell me that SFSE has a leg to stand on. For example, there are at least two Yarn Barns that I know about. They both co-exist and both have their loyal customers.

As I said in You Knit What's comments, I propose that all knitting bloggers at the very least put up the CafePress button and publicly voice their displeasure at these ridiculous legal maneuverings by this company. And buy something at CafePress to support the potential legal costs of fighting SFSE. I bought a mug. Buy a sticker or magnet or something. If you can find the money to knit, you can dig up the pennies to support this cause.

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