OF PARENTS AND PROGENY: Two months later, this latest, somewhat ridiculous New York Times-Huffington Post dispute looks like it’s all but over.
The Huffington Post’s Lisa Belkin wrote in a blog post on Thursday that she’s changing her Parentlode blog name. In the post, she asked readers to help her come up with a new name and took a few jabs at her former employer along the way.
This story first appeared in the December 23, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
“They seem to think I took their toy — or something they believe sounds a little like one of their toys — when I left the Times and moved to The Huffington Post two months ago,” Belkin wrote.
“My first post was met with a cease-and-desist order from the place I had worked for 30 years (And how was YOUR day at the office dear?),” she continued. “That was followed by a full-on lawsuit. The Times’ lawyers say, in lots of very legal language, that they’re concerned that readers (i.e. all of you) will be confused, thinking you are somehow reading the New York Times when you are here at The Huffington Post. We are pretty sure that any lawyer who thinks that has probably never actually read The Huffington Post, and we are certain that you readers are smart enough to keep your whereabouts straight.”
She conceded that the name Parentlode was something that she “never really loved” and said pursuing the lawsuit further “would involve my hanging around town next week with a bunch of lawyers, preparing for a deposition of me demanded by the Times, rather than attending my mother’s wedding in Arizona.”
She chose the wedding. She is inviting readers to pick a new name for the blog, and the big winner will get a trip to New York and — har, har — a one-year digital subscription to the Times.
This should conclude a two-month feud that started when Times lawyers sent Arianna Huffington a cease-and-desist letter, claiming that the Parentlode name was a rip-off of the Times’ Motherlode blog (which Belkin founded at the paper) and eventually led to a lawsuit.
Well, let’s emphasize this should conclude it.
“As of now, all we know is what we’ve read in their blog post,” Times spokeswoman Eileen Murphy told WWD. “The post is clearly encouraging, but in the absence of hearing from their lawyers, nothing has changed.”
Huffington told New York Magazine in November, “We’re sticking with the name. I’m not changing it.” So, score one for the Times.
The only thing that’s lost along the way is what could have been a somewhat interesting debate over who has ownership of a blog — the blogger who creates it, or the news outfit that hosts it. A HuffPo commenter said it would have been “fascinating” to see that play out, to which Belkin replied, “T’would have been. But really not worth it. I mean it’s a blog name, sheesh. And, like I said in the post, my mother was NOT happy with the idea of me spending next week here prepping for a deposition rather than spending time in Tucson with her for her wedding.”
By the way, last week the Times announced that they had tapped KJ Dell’Antonia to become Belkin’s replacement as its Motherlode blogger.