How do we stop the playground bullies?
March 22, 2008 1:12 PM   Subscribe

This group blog/community site for parents that I contribute to is under attack from a better-funded competitor. Help.

Well, maybe ‘attack’ is too strong a word, but it does feel pretty aggressive. Our site is, which started back in May 2007. Our community area, called The Playground, is where users can create a profile, upload photos and videos, ‘friend’ people, start threads—you know, social networking stuff. Now, a parenting site from the folks who brought you, has just announced their new parenting social area, dubbed The Playground (!), where parents can do all those things, too. An angry mob of my fellow Offsprungers have jumped onto Babble’s Playground boards and are being kind of shrill in a, well, playground kind of way (you can hear the “no fair!” or “I’m telling!” in nearly every post). Of course, I doubt anything is officially trademarked on Offsprung (damned impractical arty types), but do we have any sort of legal standing to tell the bullies to get off the Playground, name-wise, at least?
posted by eve harrington to Computers & Internet (10 answers total)
It is just a name of a forum, and a not very unique one at that. Why don't you all just leave each other alone?
posted by k8t at 1:21 PM on March 22, 2008

Yes, "Playground" is a very common name for a forum on parenting sites. Parents = kids = playgrounds. I've seen it at least a dozen times. Time for all of you to grow up :)
posted by LadyBonita at 1:36 PM on March 22, 2008 [1 favorite]

Unless I'm missing something, if your people stormed their board, I don't think they're the playground bullies. It doesn't affect your messageboard or community whatsoever, no laws are being broken, maybe y'all should put your time into something other than trying to win at the internet?
posted by saturnine at 1:58 PM on March 22, 2008

A very cursory search for the word playground used as the name for a message board/forum very quickly turns up literally hundreds and hundreds of sites. It's an extremely common, unimaginative name, and seems tailor-made for a site where parents hang out. Make nice and share. Does it really matter that you had it first or that there's yet another hip parenting site on the web? There's room for everyone.
posted by iconomy at 2:02 PM on March 22, 2008

(IANAL) Registration is not required for Trademark protection. But even if "The Playground" is protectable mark, you'd still have to have been the first one to do it (in the brick-and-mortar world, location also matters... not nearly as much the case on the internet) and I would guess that you're probably not.

And that's ignoring all of the comments above which suggest, and rightly so, that "The Playground" is not a particularly ingenious and creative name for a parenting forum and I personally doubt (this is not legal advice) that you'd ever be able to get Trademark protection for it.

If your community is better than the other Playground, you'll win. If not, you don't deserve to win. Trying to use Trademark law as a sword to eliminate legitimate competition is not really what it was intended for.
posted by toomuchpete at 2:50 PM on March 22, 2008 [3 favorites]

Yeah, this is kind of what I figured. I am feeling a little cross because we've been approaching this in a (pardon me) mom and pop way and suddenly the $800 stroller people come rolling in and even abscond with the same community name. Ah, well. Thanks for the dose of reality.
posted by eve harrington at 3:06 PM on March 22, 2008

So you haven't gotten a trademark and previously had no intention of doing so? Neither of you should be bitching at this point. Either get that trademark or quit complaining.
posted by Sufi at 3:26 PM on March 22, 2008

The words "better funded competitor" seems to be your core objection to their use of the same term as you, given the many others who are doing the same. If it helps, remind yourself you run a community -- you could argue that what Matt and the MeFi team do in running Ask MetaFilter is running a community that competes with better funded sites like Ask Yahoo or the like. (Indeed, I've made that argument myself.)

Any of us who hang out here would probably never hang out on Ask Yahoo, so I consider what the MeFi team's done to be a success. And the stats show that AskMe does just fine. Success in community is defined by having your community members be happy, not by them attacking other people's sites, and certainly not by worrying about how some other company spends their money.
posted by anildash at 7:40 PM on March 22, 2008 [2 favorites]

An angry mob of my fellow Offsprungers have jumped onto Babble’s Playground boards and are being kind of shrill in a, well, playground kind of way

Just to reinforce the point, you're not coming off as the good guys here.
posted by languagehat at 5:02 AM on March 23, 2008

Yeah, I would never have suggested that my pals act that way, which is why I described it so. What I wanted-- and what I got-- was a non-emotional, detached response from you all. Thanks.
posted by eve harrington at 6:15 AM on March 23, 2008

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