editorialgirl vs Editorial Girl

The time has finally come. Someone else has set up a company called Editorial Girl – providing copywriting and editing services, albeit from a base in the US – with the corresponding .com website address.

Obviously I feel a bit strange about this – but the fact it’s happened is not very surprising. The .com domain had been available when I first started using the name editorialgirl but, at that time, I didn’t identify with it as strongly as I do now. Had I known six years ago that I would one day answer to the name ‘editorialgirl’ in public (yes, sometimes people recognise me from Twitter or Flickr but don’t know my real name), then perhaps I would have registered it then.

I have already written about how and why I came up with the name editorialgirl to use online. What I wrote then still stands:

These days, I identify with the name editorialgirl (all one word, please, and all lower case) as much as my given name. I might even prefer it a little, since it’s virtually unique. I feel complete ownership over it. It’s my name on Twitter, Flickr, Facebook, Identi.ca and b3ta (to name a few*) and if ever I find someone else using it – and there have been a couple – I feel absolutely indignant. I love editorialgirl.

So, we’ve established I have an emotional connection to the name, but does it really matter?

Objectively, I suppose the answer is “probably not”. Despite the fact that it refers to my work as an editor and writer, I don’t use the name editorialgirl (or Editorial Girl, or any combination of the above) as an official business name – so I can’t really begrudge someone else taking it up.

Or can I? When does an online name become a “personal brand”? Should I even think of it in those terms? Do I have any right at all to feel as though editorialgirl is my intellectual property?

I feel… discombobulated.

Partly, of course, I’m a bit embarrassed that I didn’t register the .com domain years ago. Then there’s a little bit of … well, I don’t know what the word is, but it involves not appreciating what you’ve got ’til it’s gone, or wanting the best of both worlds… or kicking yourself for resting on your laurels, or… something. I had the choice of using editorialgirl as my company name when I registered with the HMRC as a sole trader / freelancer… but I didn’t. I chose to just stick with my ‘real’ name – now Emma Wright. I saw the name editorialgirl as a bit too frivolous. But now I’m thinking… well, you know; “Google” is hardly a sensible, serious, businessy word.

Now I’m trying to think about it professionally. Although I don’t use the name for work, I do find it odd that someone planning a start-up would just go ahead and use a name that is already taken on pretty much every social media tool. Even if you weren’t planning to ply your trade online, you’d surely check Facebook and Twitter, just to make sure your search rankings weren’t going to be too diluted… wouldn’t you? Just in case you wanted to branch out and do some web PR at some point in the future? I wonder if the woman behind Editorial Girl googled it and decided that it would be fine, as none of the results pointed to a company name?

Perhaps Editorial Girl (US) already has a large offline following. After all, I doubt that not having the Twitter name will matter to them when the .com name starts to come first for every Google search – as it inevitably will if the business takes off. And they already have a Facebook page, with fans, even if they don’t have the “http://www.facebook.com/editorialgirl” URL. [EDIT: They do now! See update, below]

Completely co-incidentally, someone retweeted this blog post from ‘Shoeperwoman’ just after I found out about the Editorial Girl website. Although it’s not a retail site, Amber makes money from “Shoeperwoman” – she refers to the blog as her livelihood – but had never trademarked the name. Now someone else has applied to use “Shoeper-woman” as a trademark for their retail blog.  I bristled as I read her post. How dare they? I’ll be very interested to find out how that goes. It seems absurd that years of use and a large blog following may not protect a name.

As for Editorial Girl and editorialgirl – well, I guess I’ll just have to see how this goes, too. Perhaps it’s the start of a silly battle, where our weapons are SEO and useful blog content (er… dammit. They’ll win). Or perhaps we’ll live peacefully – side by side online and on opposite sides of the Atlantic in real life – for the foreseeable future.

And perhaps this is the kick up the arse I needed to finally get serious about my freelancing work. Well, you never know. Keep your eyes peeled for a page about my editing and copywriting work appearing here on this blog over the next few weeks…!

* I had a bit of fun this afternoon trying to remember every site on which I use the name editorialgirl – and when I signed up to each one. If I was using editorialgirl as a business name, would I have a case?

http://www.flickr.com/people/editorialgirl/ (June 2005)
http://editorialgirl.blogspot.com/ (July 2005)
http://www.last.fm/user/editorialgirl (January 2007)
http://www.editorialgirl.co.uk/ (October 2007)
http://twitter.com/#!/editorialgirl (April 2008)
http://identi.ca/editorialgirl (July 2008)
http://www.facebook.com/editorialgirl (June 2009, when username URLs became available) [EDIT: Not any more. See update, below]
skype name “editorialgirl” (April 2011)
http://editorialgirl.tumblr.com (April 2011)

(Well, OK. I have to admit that I only signed up to those last two after talking to someone about online profiles last week and realising they were still available. Petty, moi?)
Oh and on YouTube I’m editorialgirlUK – editorialgirl is taken by someone else (but not, surprisingly, by the ‘new’ Editorial Girl).

UPDATE 26.09.2011Just got back from a week’s holiday to find that I couldn’t log into Facebook. Why? Because my username – editorialgirl – “violated username policy”. Huh? After changing it to “emma.editorialgirl” I was able to log in again and find out more: apparently one of the ways a violation might occur is when a username conflicts with a (Facebook) page of the same name. So, despite the fact that I’d been using editorialgirl on Facebook before ‘pages’, or this new company, even existed – they get the username, just like that. Thanks a bunch!

8 thoughts on “editorialgirl vs Editorial Girl

  1. As you know, I’m not a lawyer, so take this with a healthy dose of scepticism, but as far as I know, there’s nothing that prevents two businesses from trading under the same name.

    If one business does secure a trademark then that provides it with a very strong advantage in any naming disputes. But I checked and couldn’t find a trademark registered in the US for either “editorialgirl” or “Editorial Girl” (yet?).

    So it probably comes down to whether you want to duke it out in the search engines. From where I’m sitting, having just done a Google search for “editorialgirl”, I think editorialgirl.com has lots of work to do (though having both the dot com and the LinkedIn names might squeeze you out a little).

    Personally, I think that the owner editorialgirl.com has done neither of you any good by choosing to trade under the name, though it is of course their choice.

  2. Trademarks and ‘DBA’ are two take here in order to register interest in a name.
    A trademark costs several thousand dollars, but we have to apply for a ‘doing business as’ license with out local county.

    I hope I dont have to start arguing with another jennywenny, it seems to be just me for now and my name is way more silly than editorialgirl! It was pretty funny opening my bank account!

    Good luck with it all, I like your username and I hope you get to keep it.

    I’ve had a similar experience with my logo. I was all set with a whisk/atom type of combo to give reference to my scientific career, and its popped up on a tv program here. It does seem to have an unofficial link to the molecular gastronomy movement, so I think I’ll have to quietly walk away from that one and maybe try a silly labcoat/glasses combo or something…

  3. Marshall McLuhan was surely right in predicting that the rise of an information economy would turn us into a “global village.” Without the Internet, the two Editorial Girls should never have even known of the existence of each other, let alone fret about it.

    Six thousand miles apart, in different countries, they don’t even write in the same language, as Mark Twain pointed out. It is as if Mandy’s Ice Cream of Philadelphia should suddenly become aware of Mandy’s Ice Cream of Bristol and wonder what to do about it. The answer is, of course: “sell ice cream.”

    Unless the two company’s business strategies are to deliver services to a global market, then your real enemies are ignorance, penny-pinching, and a male-dominated economy.

    Just one man’s opinion.

    If I may: I like your blog. You are really at your best when you are writing about the impact of technology on society and the craft of writing, not so much when you are telling what happened at the pub last night.

  4. There is no conflict here.

    Whom ever provides superior editing services will be
    “THE EditorialGirl!”

    Having been educated in the UK but living in the USA, I prefer the weather,the language is quite similar albeit with some subtle historical differences in color & flavour.
    Nonetheless the world is big enough for two Editorial Girls probably Editorial Women;-)

  5. Personally, I absolutely agree that there’s space for multiple Editorial Girls and that they should all get on with selling ice cream! But that’s not really the issue here; the issue is that Emma was using the domain facebook.com/editorialgirl, inside of FBs rules as far as we’re aware, and somebody else who wanted to use it, tried her luck and reported it as infringing the rules. Facebook took it away from Emma and the other girl was then free to claim it.

    It doesn’t seem to me (correct me if I’m wrong please!) that FB have stated categorically what the offence was and given her the opportunity to refute it. In fact, if that quote is correct, that a violation of rules happens “when a username conflicts with a (Facebook) page of the same name”, it is the NEW person who is in violation, as there was already a Facebook page called Editorial Girl when they requested the username.

    Anyway. That’s my tuppence-worth. I do have two cents here if anybody prefers them to Sterling. ;->


  6. I do understand how you feel editorialgirl. I really do. (It took me ages to get over another Jo Ind setting up on Facebook.) Have you spoken to Editorial Girl about this?

  7. I do own the trademark for the term Editorial Girl. I am not trying to compete with you and would happily give you work if you were so inclined.

    My business depends on consistency to maintain its good standing, and the confusion that my clients have when searching for editorial girl is a problem. I did not establish my company in spite of your established effort. I applied for a business license and the trademark and was granted both. Please stop trying to trash me as if I had done something specifically to abuse you. I would rather not pursue this further.

    Like Rick Sherle said above, “Unless the two company’s business strategies are to deliver services to a global market, then your real enemies are ignorance, penny-pinching, and a male-dominated economy.” I would like to think that this can be peacefully resolved and that you can continue to do your business and I mine, and if you want some content strategy work, contact me.

  8. I know exactly how you feel here, having had the same experience myself.

    I started doing birmingham-alive! way back in 1998 – for the first six months it was just a page on my main personal website, and then when I realised it had potential I spun it off onto its own website, registering the domain birmingham-alive.com; back then domain registration wasn’t nearly as easy, cheap, and straightforward as it is now, so – in retrospect rather stupidly – I didn’t bother also registering the .org, .org.uk, and .co.uk variants of the name.

    Sure enough, a year later birmingham-alive.co.uk appeared, run by somebody in Kings Heath, on what perhaps was one of the worst examples of website design and content around at the time. Worse still, they had the temerity to a few weeks later put a note on their home page a comment about them being “the original and best – beware of imitations”! For a few years I had the problem of when talking to people about my own site having to explain in tedious detail to be careful when going to my site not to be confused by the other site with the same name; I never had any commercial intentions with my site, but when talking to concert promoters trying to get press tickets for events, it does risk undermining one’s credibility if they go and look at the wrong site!

    Fortunately they eventually realised somehow that the naming confusion was as bad for them as it was for me and changed the name of their site (whilst keeping the domain), but it was still mightily irritating.

    And I still to a certain extent have the same problem with another much more recently started site – a similar name, but with just one letter missing.

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