I believe ideas and concepts to be ethereal (without ownership) until they are brought into their physical forms. Their physical forms can take on a multitude of shapes. The same ideas sit in our collective consciousness and it is only the way each individual manifests it that he/she should hold any rights to.
I've gotten dinged for making baby shirts that say "You're Old", "Caution, I Bite" and the latest ding is for my "Turnip The Beet" design.
The woman who has made the "Lettuce Turnip The Beets" sold so many of these shirts that she decided to pursue a copyright (does not protect phrases no matter how clever and witty) and also a trademark (by using this phrase on all her branding.) I understand her desire to hang onto this money making phrase. I also understand her anger at a major kids clothing manufacturer (Gymboree) who directly knocked off her idea.
Here is her design:
Here is Gymboree's take on the shirt:
Personally, I don't find it very attractive.
After I had produced my shirt, I noticed a bumper sticker that said "Lettuce Turnip The Beets" and I thought, wow that is even more clever than mine and then I saw the phrase "Peas Turnip The Beets" somewhere else and I thought that was darn cute too. I felt like I was riding the popular vegetable wave that had taken hold of Portlandia with all its varieties of kale, love of beets and gosh darn it don't we know how to cook up some collards now.
The owner of the trademark for LTUTB came after me with cease and desist via Amazon and I was flummoxed until I did some deep Internet sleuthing. I am assuming she feels that I am infringing on her trademark that she has gone through so much effort to put into place and protect.
So, I am considering changing my phrase to say something other than Turnip The Beet. I'm thinking "Squash The Beet" might be too negative. "Olive The Beet" is a twee contender. My Beet Box with a box 'o beets on the front seems very hip...or how about my favorite?...."This Shirt Is Beet."
*I went ahead and made a 'This Shirt Is Beet' today because this morning my daughter begged me to please not buy her any clothing unless she was with me. I want to give her this shirt.
Labels: copyright, lettuce turnip the beets, trademarks, turn up the beat, turnip the beet