It really burns a company’s biscuits when you go after their top talent, but it gets even further under their skin when you bite off their properties, which is what the New York Times accused Arianna Huffington’s Huffington Post of doing in a cease-and-desist letter sent to the latter entity Monday.
Last month, Huffington pinched the Gray Lady’s Lisa Belkin- blogger for the site’s popular “Motherlode” section- to head up a parenting channel on HuffPo. While the loss of Belkin’s contribution may have been a nuisance to the Times, the blog’s intention to riff on the the established sub-brand’s name kind of really pissed the NYT off. Lawyer for the New York Times Co. Richard Samson said in the letter:
“While we are flattered by your focus on our blog and your apparent fondness for its name, we obviously cannot permit you to adopt a name whose sole purpose is to create an association in the minds of readers with our ‘Motherlode’ blog… This is a transparent attempt to capitalize on the fame and reputation of the original nytimes.com blog, and constitutes an obvious infringement of The Times’ rights under US Trademark law.”
The New York Times Co. points out that the HuffPo’s version uses “motherlode” in their page’s tags, and cites a passage written by Belkin explaining that ‘Parentlode’ includes fathers, which “encourages the false impression that the HuffPo blog is a continuation of the Motherlode blog, albeit with a new name.”
The Huffington Post only commented to say that they were “very happy” with the new channel as well as Belkin’s work.