This post is a follow up to this post.
Many of you have been wondering what ever happened with WellieWishers. I am SO THANKFUL for the support you have shown to me since this happened! YOU GUYS ARE THE BEST. It’s not really something I enjoy talking about, which you can probably guess, but I wanted to complete the circle for you. If you’re interested, I am happy to do so. Keep reading.
(Skip the next paragraph if you’re familiar with the story.)
New to the story? In a nutshell:
This summer, American Girl debuted a new line of dolls called WellieWishers. When the line was introduced, a friend alerted me to the similarities between the WellieWishers name and logo, and MY OWN former name and logo, WellerWishes.
So, here’s what happened.
After Facebooking, Tweeting, Instagramming and blogging about the similarities, I thought about WHAT (and IF) I wanted to do anything about the situation.
Here’s the facts about my WellerWishes logo:
I never copyrighted the logo, proper. Since I had been using it as my logo for many years previous, I had copyrighted so, SO many groups of artwork with that very logo on the bottom of the page. HOWEVER— I FAILED to EVER copyright the actual logo itself. Oops. (And, YES… these days, I copyright EVERYTHING.)
Hold on… It wouldn’t have mattered, anyway.
The WellieWishers logo is NOT THE SAME as the WellerWishes logo.
YES, there’s a STRONG thread of visual inspiration, aside from the actual name itself. But, LEGALLY, the visual evidence would not be enough.
That aside, I DON’T have paper-trail or any other hard evidence, aside from the visual and name similarities, that can prove or suggest that WellieWishers was directly inspired by WellerWishes name or logo design.
Wouldn’t matter here, anyway. Trademarks are registered by category, depending on the intent of use. Since I never intended to use WellerWishes name for dolls, I never trademarked it for that. In fact, I never trademarked it at all.
Trademarks also require renewal every two years. I stopped using this name and logo as my brand name in 2013. So, trademark is a moot point.
I knew pretty much off-the-bat I was NOT going to get a lawyer involved. Why? On top of the gaping legal holes I had —see Trademark and Copyright, above— I had resolved a legal situation not long before this. I knew EXACTLY what this was going to look like, and I knew I wanted NO part of that in my life. In fact, there was no question. I didn’t even have to think about it. Not worth it.
All this is true. However… I still looked into options.
So, WHAT was my ultimate goal, then? What form of recompence did I want to seek out?
What I DIDN’T want:
I DIDN’T want them to STOP using the logo. I may have my own beliefs about where or how the logo originated— but the fact is, I wasn’t using it anymore. It wasn’t affecting me in remotely the same way. If I was still using the logo, it would have been a much different scenario.
What I DID want:
I decided that I wanted to let them know. I wanted the executives at AG to know— to see— to absorb and to assimilate— what had happened.
I would write a letter.
I hired someone to help me do this, someone seasoned in this arena, who has a really balanced perspective.
I also decided that I would ask for monetary compensation.
Well, my thought was that it just didn’t make sense to write a letter of this weight and magnitude without asking for some sort of recompense, especially when I knew that the similarities were eerie and it was arguably enough to illustrate direct inspiration.
Plus, if I wasn’t making some sort of compensatory demand, would the contents of my letter even register? This was also in the back of my mind.
The PROBLEMS with this:
1 – I KNEW that my charges would not LEGALLY hold up (See Copyright again please).
2 – IF asking for monetary compensation, I HAVE to be prepared to go down a “lawyer” road. (For my thoughts on that again, see Lawyer, above.)
And, if I was going to ask for monetary compensation, lawyers VERY LIKELY WOULD be involved.
And, just for the sake of argument, let’s say I’m going to hire a lawyer and fight this.
Here’s the truth: I cannot compete with their lawyers. American Girl is Mattel.
Mattel lawyers. (Mattel lawyers. Mattel lawyers.)
…As anyone who has ever been in the legal mud can attest to, there are no winners. There are only degrees of losing.
So… back to the story.
With my consultant’s help, I prepared a letter worthy of sending. I knew HOW to send it, and WHO to send it to. I needed to put together the envelope thoughtfully, complete with visual representation of my charges. This would require a little time and effort to pull together.
It just so happened that, right after I had the letter ready to go and the package ready to prep, I got pretty busy with work. This busy week turned into two busy weeks.
The letter? It hung out and waited.
But, in the back of my mind, after a little time had passed, I wondered if I should bother. And it wasn’t a procrastinate-y type of wonder. It was a “What’s the end goal, here? …REALLY?” type of wonder.
It also happened that, during this time, I had a serious conversation with a legal professional, someone who knows the score. This direction of this conversation totally echoed the direction that I was already in.
In the end, I decided not to send the letter.
I didn’t want to ask for any recompense if I was not willing to back it up legally. I wasn’t willing to back it up legally, so— no letter.
If I wanted to send the letter simply to state the issue and removed any financial request, it didn’t make any sense to send it.
• All I could have hoped for was A RESPONSE. I wouldn’t have gotten ANY response to a letter like that. Realistically, even if someone WANTED to respond to the letter —which I cannot imagine they WOULD, unless there was a LEGAL REASON to, which there WOULDN’T have been if I’d sent THIS letter—I am FAIRLY CERTAIN they would be legally forbidden (by the company) to do so.
• If I was merely sending the letter to seek a sense of personal closure (which wouldn’t happen anyway, keep reading), then a thoughtfully-written letter with ethical merit going unanswered would not accomplish that for me. (The “keep reading” part: closure never comes from anything external, anyway. It only comes from within.)
Overall, the situation put me in a position to see crystal-clear what IS important to me, and what is NOT.
I was decisive from the get-go. I’m really proud of that. I knew exactly what I would be willing to do, and what I wouldn’t be willing to do. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt was my personal mantra. I was realistic and looked at the facts. The clarity was there.
So, that is what happened with American Girl. Everything and nothing. Nothing and everything. The outcome is not glamourous, dramatic or heroic. But it’s an ENDING, and I can move forward resolved and with peace. I looked into every crevice of option in a balanced and objective way. I learned something from this experience and, well, maybe you got something out of it, too. I have just one word— ONWARD! …and UPWARD! …and FORWARD! (Okay, that’s five words.)
Anyway… I just wanted to let you know.