Evil Empire Attacks Digital Divas
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From: Peter Langston <psl>
Date: Thu, 1 Jun 100 15:26:57 -0700
Subject: Evil Empire Attacks Digital Divas
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The Digital Divas vs. Microsoft
The Digital Divas are devoted to helping women get together to learn from
each other in the world of Web design. More than that, the Divas organize
Grey Day, an annual effort to spotlight the dangers of unlicensed copyright
use and plagiarism on the Web. And, oh yes -- it appears that Microsoft
has stolen their trademark.
Founded in 1997, the Digital Divas have grown to a membership of 71 women
around the world. In addition to championing copyright enforcement, they
also provide a free, member-written digital newsletter that provides
Web-design help and advice.
In April, Microsoft launched a Web site at <a
href="http://www.digitaldiva.com">Digitaldiva.com</a> that features a woman
named Stacy Elliott giving advice to women on how to use the Internet and
computer technology. This is all very corporate, and is not the community
effort set up by the Digital Divas. For example, Microsoft provides <a
information</a> on their target audience right off of the Digital Diva
The Digital Divas aren't rolling in cash. Thankfully, the lawyers at Moses
& Singer wrote a pro bono <a
href="http://www.digitaldivas.com/gol/cease.htm">cease and desist</a> letter
to Microsoft, but Microsoft's site still remains up and active.
Dana Whitmire, founder and 'Fearless Leader' of the Digital Divas, is mad
as hell. "The whole thing makes me very angry, and it's frustrating. We've
worked very hard to build a sound reputation and a good group, and I think
we've done a good job. It's extremely infuriating that Microsoft comes
along and takes the name with their power, money and PR machine behind them
and the possibility that they can just run over us and undo everything
At first glance, it seems as if the problem could be purely accidental.
However, research into the Digital Divas name shows a staggering number of
Web sites and resources run by members of the Digital Divas. So, Dana, what
are the chances that this could be a simple mistake? "We feel the chances
are virtually nil. If anyone searched any search engine, there is no
possible way they they could not have found us. We've grown steadily, and
this is something that we've done with just elbow grease, pure and simple.
It's all been very grassroots. We don't have a big publicity machine behind
us. This has been the individual members pouring heart and soul into it."
Microsoft has responded to the cease and desist letter sent by the Digital
Divas, informing the Divas that they didn't feel that 'Digital Diva' was
a trademarkable term, according to Digital Diva and Attorney Faith Kaminski.
"Our response to them has been showing them that we've had continuous use
of the name dating from 1997, and it includes printouts from Network
Solutions, and E-mails dating back to November of 1997."
Meanwhile, Microsoft is stepping up the appearance schedule of Stacy
Elliott, their own Digital Diva. The 'original' Divas are angry not only
for the alleged trademark violation, but also because of the way in which
Stacy Elliott presents herself, and the name Digital Diva. Stacy Elliot's
interview</a> at siliconvalley.com got the Divas in an uproar. "She's just
continuing her stance that women are such idiots when it comes to computers,
that we're so afraid of them," Dana said in an interview yesterday, "It's
really, really, condescending. ... The damage that we're suffering is that
damage to our reputation. Our reputation is not for being a bunch of women
who are idiots about computers. Our reputation is being people who are very
computer-savvy, and this woman is trashing that by going around saying 'I'm
a Digital Diva, and all women are morons.'"
It costs nothing to join the Digital Divas. It's a free organization.
There's not a lot of money lying around to support a legal fight. Dana
Whitmire has a day job. The organization exists because of the goodwill
and volunteerism of talented people, not as the fruit of a vast payroll
account. The good news is that Friends of Ed, Ltd., a division of <a
href="http://www.wrox.com">Wrox Press</a>, is publishing 'The Digital Divas
Design Guide,' a real-world book with Web-design advice. Wrox Press heard
about the legal issues that the Divas are involved in, and offered them a
$10,000 advance to pay for legal fees. Moses & Singer agreed to match that
amount with services, and will be fighting for the Divas all the way up
through a preliminary injunction hearing against Microsoft.
Well, what's next? The Digital Divas have written back to Microsoft with
a mountain of evidence that they've been around since 1997, and expect to
see a response from Microsoft by noon today, Wednesday, May 31st. Thanks
to the dynamic nature of the Web, expect to see this story updated with
new information about this legal battle.
© 2000 Peter Langston