Trademarking the Motherlode: The NY Times Sues Huffington for Trademark Infringement on its Parenting Blog

by Mike Mintz on December 13, 2011 · 1 comment

in martindale.com

If you’ve ever visited the New York Time’s parenting blog, then you’ve hit the “Motherlode.”  And, by hit, I mean clicked on, of course.  However, recently the recognized author of this popular blog, Lisa Belkin, left the Times to write an upstart parenting blog for the Huffington Post, named the “Parentlode.”

Understandably displeased, the Times argued that the name “Parentlode,” being a derivative of “Motherlode,” would confuse its readers to believe that the Huffington Post was Belkin’s continuation of the “Motherlode.”  Supporting its argument, Belkin’s first blog entry for “Parentlode” explained the “new name,” implying that the “Parentlode” was the same blog as the “Motherlode,” simply with a new name and location.  As a result, the Times applied for a trademark for the name “Motherload” and demanded, under threat of suit, that Huffington cease from calling its competitive parenting blog “the Parentlode.”

Huffington continued calling the blog “the Parentlode” and applied for its own trademark for the name “Parentlode.”  So, on November 4, 2011, the Times filed suit in a U.S. District Court against Huffington Post and its parent company, AOL, for, inter alia, trademark infringement.

Because both news publications have only recently applied for a trademark, the question will become – Do blog readers associate the brand name of a blog with the writer or the publisher?  And, in the end, the case will come down to the general trademark test of whether the name of the blog “Parentlode” creates a likelihood of confusion to the customer.  Read here to see why Lee Berlik thinks the Times has a valid complaint.

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