NY Times Tells HuffPost to Cease and Desist

The Times claims its former writer's new blog is a rip-off of her Times blog

The New York Times has fired off a cease-and-desist letter to the Huffington Post after the debut of Lisa Belkin’s new blog “Parentlode,” claiming it stole from Belkin’s old blog at the Times, “Motherlode.”

Belkin penned her first column for the HuffPo on Monday and made reference to the obvious similarity in name.

“Finally, why the new name? For three years I have fielded reader emails about how "Motherlode" doesn't really fit in an era when fathers are every bit the parent,” Belkin wrote. “It also doesn't fit a blog that so regularly champions equality, and new paradigms, nor one that is written by a writer who is exquisitely aware of the power of words. For three years I have answered those emails by saying that a brand is a brand, and the Times wasn't inclined to change this one, but if I were choosing today I would choose something more inclusive.”

The Times was not amused.

In the letter, obtained by Women’s Wear Daily, Times’ lawyer Robert Samson wrote, “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.”

Belkin announced in her final Times’ blog post Oct. 7 that she would be leaving the Gray Lady for Arianna Huffington’s sprawling media company. She marked the latest in a string of Times’ reporters and editors to join HuffPo, including business editor Peter Goodman and national editor Tim O’Brien.

The Times has filed an application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to trademark the name Motherlode. Thought the application was filed Monday, it is retroactive to the inception of the “Motherlode” blog.

In reference to that, Samson wrote, “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 U.S. Trademark law.”