March 24, 2004

OUTRAGE!

theknottakenshirt.jpg

UPDATE 4:40 PM: In the comments section below, a reader pointed me to an IndieBride.com discussion thread which began on July 31, 2003. TheKnot has been selling thongs with the word "taken" across the front since at least the end of last summer. While it appears that TheKnot beat me to the idea of putting "taken" on an item of clothing, it still appears that my T-shirt came first and that their ad copy is a close copy of mine. When I searched in January to make sure I wasn't copying another T-shirt idea, I did not think to look for thongs marking a woman's genitals as claimed property. I regret the error. My original post from this morning continues below.

This T-shirt, which bears an eerie resemblence to the one I began selling in January, is listed as a "new" item on TheKnot.com's wedding shop. I found the shirt after doing a random web search today on an unrelated topic. At first I didn't think much about their shirt, figuring we had both hit on a similar idea at around the same time. But something about the word "new," listed right next to the item's name, stuck in my craw.

The more I looked at the shirt and their description on the web page, the more suspicious I got. I don't know exactly when they began selling it, but it had to have been after I started offering mine. I had done thorough searches of sites like TheKnot to make sure I wasn't stepping on anyone's toes or in danger of being sued before I designed the shirt with a friend. Maybe I missed something, but given that the word "new" is prominently displayed above the item description, I'm assuming TheKnot wasn't selling this two months ago.

Here's their description of their shirt:

Let everyone know your status -- from prewedding parties right up through the honeymoon and beyond -- with this light blue T-shirt that features "taken." in bold white letters.

Now, here's the description of the "taken" T-shirt at my shop:

Tell the world you're spoken for with this classy, high-quality tee.

"Let everyone know your status" versus "Tell the world you're spoken for." Was I ripped off? I'll let you be the judge.

womenstakenshirttwo.jpg

There are a few possibilities about how this happened:

  1. L and I have only been engaged since the end of August and TheKnot is one of a handful of survivors of the dot com boom of the nineties. They might have had this shirt in the works before I came around.
  2. It's just a big coincidence.
  3. With all the press I've received since October, someone - or someones - at TheKnot has been reading my site, thought the "taken" shirt was a good idea, and ripped me off.

I'm inclined to think the best of people, but I have the sinking feeling that option number three is the most likely. Considering my review of TheKnot's message boards, I'm just glad I didn't wake up with a horse's head in my bed or come home to find L opening a box of black roses from the Bridal Mafia.

Some advantages to my shirt? The woman's version is a dollar cheaper than TheKnot's. (Go ahead, Knotties, start a price war. I dare ya.) Their's features a "cute Knot signature" on the back, meaning you'll be shilling for the TheKnot everytime you wear it. Mine comes in versions with and without a PlanetGordon.com web address so you can buy one commensurate with your marketing comfort. The PlanetGordon.com baby doll T is made by American Apparel, an LA-based company which prides itself on providing good working environment and benefits for its employees. I can't say for sure, but I would bet TheKnot's stuff is made by kids in Myanmar for ten cents a week.

I welcome any suggestions from my faithful readers, but I'm not sure if there's anything I can do, short of making a big stink or perhaps calling the Fox 5 Problem Solvers. (I've always wanted to do that.)

Read the post that inspired my mom to suggest a T-shirt and the follow-up post in which I introduced the "taken" T to the reading public.

This isn't the last I'll write on this subject. Oh, no. I have not yet begun to fight.

Posted by The Groom at March 24, 2004 11:10 AM
Comments

Do a search for "taken t-shirt" on Google and my website and online shop are the first two results. The Knot isn't anywhere on the first three pages of results, again leading me to believe that my shirt has been around longer.

Posted by: The Groom at March 24, 2004 11:34 AM

My vote is for situation #3. I think you were ripped off. I can't believe it! Imagine the stink that "the knot" might put up if you were the one stealing their idea. Outrageous. No other word describes it better.


p.s- I'll be buying my shirt from you!

Posted by: Tim at March 24, 2004 11:45 AM

Those rat bastards! Here's my proposal for your next shirt offering: "I went to the Knot and all I got was this lousy T-shirt whose design was stolen from me".

Posted by: Francis at March 24, 2004 12:10 PM

what the hell? that sucks. you should sue or get a cease and desist.

Posted by: alex at March 24, 2004 12:17 PM

Dude, you were ripped off.
I feel bad because I found your site through one of the posts you put on the Knot message boards. I haven't been back to the Knot in a while, but I visit your site every day. My taken t-shirts will be from your store. I prefer the original to a cheap knock off.

Posted by: Christina at March 24, 2004 12:46 PM

Don't they know it's a sin to steal? (this coming from a Catholic School administrator)

Posted by: Pam at March 24, 2004 12:58 PM

They were selling "taken" *thongs* a long time ago, I am sorry to tell you. Teeshirts, though, I don't remember about. (This came up on indiebride as a "this is gross!" "no, this is cute!" fight a while back.)

http://kvetch.indiebride.com/index.php?t=msg&th=1096&start=0&rid=480&S=3d380c207addae85385b114482ca6f17

Posted by: Abigail at March 24, 2004 01:18 PM

Okay, you made me do it; I am at work but HAD to go the the knot site....at least you don't sell tacky thongs that state a woman's pubic area is taken....ewwwwwwwww. Your blog and your product is such a class act.

Posted by: Pam at March 24, 2004 01:29 PM

You SO got taken! (Sorry...) I think you should threaten to sue them. Take them to small claims court for $3000. http://www.tenant.net/Court/Howcourt/sclaim.html. They'll most likely just settle and then you and L can have a bunch of honeymoon spending money.

Posted by: P at March 24, 2004 04:35 PM

Thanks, Abigail, for the investigation. In the interest of full disclosure, I'll post an update today. So the powers that be at TheKnot are not as nefarious as I formerly believed, but then again, a thong with the word "taken" across the front? I agree with Pam. Strikes me as a little gross and hardly becoming of a bridal site that otherwise runs towards the classier side of things.

Posted by: The Groom at March 24, 2004 04:36 PM

I actually find the thong very creepy too, whereas I do not find the teeshirt creepy. And this, speaking as someone who owns two pairs of thong panties with "breakfast" on the crotch! Yes, I am the epitome of class, and yes, it's a long story.

Posted by: abigail at March 24, 2004 05:26 PM

does anyone else find the headless woman in the picture really really really creepy?

Posted by: steve at March 24, 2004 05:32 PM

so i went all over the knot last night and noticed something. no black people anywhere. every picture of a bride and groom is a white couple.

Posted by: alex at March 25, 2004 08:26 AM

I'm willing to ante up money for your legal defense!! The Knot is owned by AOL, and I'd love to see them get their just desserts on this one.

Posted by: Laura at March 25, 2004 10:46 AM

Hey everyone, please read the update on the post. It seems it was more or less a coincidence. I won't need Johnnie Cochran - "Don't Be Mistaken, The T-Shirt's Taken" - to help in any legal case. I still thank you all for your comments and emails and also thank the people who bought my sweatshop-free women's baby doll shirts as a show of support!

Posted by: The Groom at March 25, 2004 01:29 PM

Well, there is another advantage as well. If I recall, the point of your t-shirt was to give the groom something to show his status. Does the Knot even have mens' sizes? For the t-shirt.... I don't want to know if they have it for the thong.....

Posted by: Malinda (trevor.net) at March 25, 2004 02:01 PM

I have 3 words to say...... I hate theknot!

Sounds like a potiential law suit! hmmmmmm.....

Posted by: leanne at March 26, 2004 01:43 AM

Have you considered a "Taken" tie - much more suitable for formal events and other occasions when a T-Shirt just won't do. A clever design which is not immediately noticeable as the word "Taken" would be a very marketable item....

Posted by: M#1 at March 26, 2004 04:24 PM

Funny thing this "taken" T-shirt :-P. I saw you through lauren's blog.

Posted by: Mario at April 3, 2004 12:41 AM