On Monday, Huffington Post launched its newest feature, a column about parenting called Parentlode and authored by Lisa Belkin, a longtime writer for The New York Times.
That same day, NYT fired off a cease-and-desist letter to Huffington Post, arguing that the name "Parentlode" is too similar to the name the NYT used for the blog Belkin authored -- Motherlode. The NYT gave the Huffington Post until Thursday to respond or face potential legal action, says spokesperson Eileen Murphy.
“We believe that the Huffington Post is intentionally trying to confuse the issue and associate themselves with the blog that originated at The New York Times,” Murphy says. She adds that the NYT plans to continue publishing the 3-year-old "Motherlode" blog, despite Belkin's departure. The newspaper has applied to trademark the term Motherlode.
A spokesperson for AOL's Huffington Post said the company has no plans to change the name of Parentlode.
Belkin says in her inaugural Huffington Post column that the name Parentlode better reflects the column's subject matter. “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,” she wrote. “For three years, I have answered those emails by saying that a brand is a brand, and the NYT wasn't inclined to change this one, but if I were choosing today, I would choose something more inclusive. Seems I AM choosing today. So welcome to 'Parentlode.' ”
But courts might not see that distinction as meaningful. Trademark lawyer Martin Schwimmer says that the NYT's trademark claim appears plausible, given the names' similarities. “It's not inconceivable that someone will confuse the two,” he says.