the red badge of honor that so many web-geeks wear with pride is a fascinating item--a sword weilded with heavy-handed fervor by the largest of companies to squash competition, ostensibly. Unfortunately, all too often, the cease and desist underscores the bullies on the playground of life--attacking the meek without thought or remorse.
be warned, big bullies. the meek...they shall inherit the earth...i've heard, at least.
Enter the story of The Chocolate Farm, a home-grown chocolatier in Denver started in 1998 by then 11-year-old Elise MacMillan and her 13-year-old sage of a brother, Evan. Elise had learned to make chocolate from her grandmother when she was 3 and, a born overachiever, she started a chocolate stand at a local farmers' market when she was 10. The stand became a full-blown business--website (designed by Evan) and all--and the siblings now employ 20-40 people, depending on the season. They plan to turn their business over to professional managers in the fall, when Elise goes to college.
Not according to the people over at Russell Stover. According to the Denver Post,
The corporate confectionery, which owns Whitman's Candies, wants the Macmillans to stop using the word "sampler." On their website, www.thechocolatefarm.com, the siblings sell a "Chocolate Farm Sampler," which includes three-quarters of a pound of candy and a recipe book.
Russell Stover advertising executive John O'Hara gave the Chocolate Farm an ultimatum in a Thursday e-mail:
"The Sampler mark has been used by Whitman's since 1912 and has been registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office since 1922. ... Please ... remove the Sampler mark from any and all material that you may be using; otherwise, Whitman's will have no other choice but to pursue legal remedies."
Uh...Sampler...as in, A representative collection or selection: a sampler of American short-story writers. A variety; an assortment. As in...sample our chocolates and worship at the feet of child entrepreneurship.
The story is enough to make us cry out--don't back down alliterative child duo! Elise and Evan 4-ever!
Never fear. They benefit from their youth--Elise's moxie is charming. "It's a generic term. Anybody ought to be able to use it. Nobody has confused our Chocolate Farm Sampler with a Whitman's Sampler." Evan's self-deprecating flattery is endearing. "We feel flattered that they would consider us a threat," Evan said. "It just seems like the most ridiculous thing in the world to go after a couple of kids with a small chocolate business."
Lay on...Elise and Evan! Exeunt, fighting!