Saturday, February 25, 2006
When sweet peas go sour
Yes, I'm a very sour pea. I'm named as a defendant in a trademark infringement lawsuit. My copyrighted cutesy "Sweet Pea" graphic design is the issue. I'm not alone, I'm one of 52 defendants listed in a intellectual property lawsuit seeking $16M from each person for using the term "Sweet Pea." 44 are CafePress shopkeepers, and all are micro businesses — some haven't ever sold anything! Short story is that this is an up and coming trend, using the internet to find small targets, filing suit then asking for a settlement to make the suit go away. In my case, my attorney/friend's call to the plaintiff's attorney, Alexander E Barthet of Miami, brought about a demand of a $5,000 fee, plus and injunction from using the image in the future.
Sweet Pea Limited is the plaintiff, note they don't even us a "TM" anywhere on their site. Their products are always referred to as "Sweet Pea by Stacy Frati". Their clothes are feminine, trendy tops sold at Nordstrom. The defendants believe, "Sweet Pea" is a generic term of affection and vegetable, not worthy of protected trademark status, and that applying our designs graphically to a generic t-shirt or baby bib is not a violation of their trademark.
The defendants have worked very hard to organize themselves and went to the press this week, please read our press release at www.sourpeas.org all the sour details are there, including the "Them/us" sweet pea "comparo", see the designs and compare for yourself. The lawsuit and other references are also on the site. Look for us in the news (and wish me luck ; )