From time to time, we have observed that companies can be overzealous in protecting their trademarks, actually damaging their brand as they try to preserve its integrity. The Jessica Alba backed Honest Company may be the latest in that category.
The company describes itself as “a trusted source for stylish, eco-friendly baby diapers, wipes, bath & body care products and non-toxic cleaning products.” The actress has said that she created The Honest Company “to help moms and to give all children a better, safer start.”
Unfortunately for Ms. Alba and The Honest Company, the company’s attempts to block a mommy-blogger’s application for a trademark brought serious backlash from their target demographic: parents.
Perhaps The Honest Company should have done its research to determine the reach of someone like Ms. Bunmi Laditan, who tweets and blogs from The Honest Toddler.
As social media has gained in popularity, parents have taken to Tumblr, Twitter, YouTube, and blogs to shake their heads at some of the day-to-day – let’s call them joys – of parenting and to find compatriots with whom to laugh and commiserate.
There are a couple of great humor sites out there, and they each have a wide audience:
There’s Convos With My 2-Year Old YouTube series, where a dad re-enacts actual conversations he has had with his 2-year-old daughter. To drive home just how absurd these conversations can be, a full-grown man plays his daughter.
The first episode has upwards of 8.5 million views, with subsequent episodes having been viewed by millions more.
Then of course, there is The Honest Toddler, which has been The Honest Company’s target. The Honest Toddler started as a Twitter feed (which now has 266,465 followers) and has expanded into a popular blog and a published book.
Ms. Laditan’s Twitter and blog tap into the humor of parenting by giving a voice to her toddler:
Ms. Laditan’s personal blog lists a timeline of events in her legal battle (the below list has been shortened for our purposes but the full post is here,). It started with domain name and Twitter handle registrations:
March 2012: The domain name honesttoddler.com is purchased by The Honest Company but is NOT used as a live website until July 2013.
May 1, 2012: Mom blogger Bunmi Laditan launches Honest Toddler twitter account on Twitter (Bunmi had no knowledge of The Honest Company’s ownership of honesttoddler.com)
April 2, 2013: U.S. Patent Trademark Office finds that Honest Toddler’s trademark is not confusing with any current marks, grants preliminary approval, and publishes the mark.
April 20, 2013: The Honest Company contacts Mom blogger Honest Toddler and offers to license her the use of the trademark for 365 days ONLY if she withdraws the trademark application.
The Honest Company and The Honest Toddler have since reached what the company called an “amicable agreement” for the “unwanted situation” but not before a petition in support of Ms. Laditan amassed thousands of signatures and caused public relations damage to The Honest Company. Under the Facebook post you can find the following reactions:
The Honest Company’s experience is something for all companies to remember as they seek to enforce their trademarks in the domain name space.
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