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NYTimes Sues HuffPo Over 'Parentlode' Blog

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By Andrew Chow, Esq. on November 11, 2011 5:48 AM

The battle of the baby blogs is on. The New York Times is suing The Huffington Post, saying its "Parentlode" blog infringes on the Times'  trademark, "Motherlode."

Both "Parentlode" and "Motherlode" are blogs that talk about parenting issues. And both were the brainchild of the same blogger, Lisa Belkin.

Belkin started "Motherlode" as a Times employee three years ago. She jumped ship for AOL's Huffington Post last month.

Shortly thereafter, "Parentlode" was born. The New York Times promptly sent out a cease and desist letter, and requested "Parentlode" change its name.

The paper even asked HuffPo founder Arianna Huffington to take action. Huffington and AOL's lawyers wouldn't budge.

Now the war over words is headed to court. The Times accuses AOL of unfair competition, trademark infringement, and deceptive trade practices.

In court documents, the Times alleges that the "-lode" suffix, common to both competing blogs, is clearly meant to create confusion among readers.

That's key to a claim of trademark infringement. The law aims to prevent customer confusion, and the use of a similar trademark for a similar business is usually a no-no.

To prove its point about confusion, the Times cites some online examples -- including a Twitter message that incorrectly chirped, "The NYT's Motherlode becomes HuffPo's Parentlode."

That kind of confusion could be costly for the Times in terms of readership and revenue, the paper argues.

If the Gray Lady's lawyers get their way, the suit will also stop AOL from attempting to trademark the "Parentlode" name -- a baby step in the Times' quest to make "Motherlode" unique in the blogosphere.

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