Seeking Alpha Crosses the Line

Seekingcsuckers_2

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Earlier this year, I looked at the issue of giving away content for free to sites such as Seeking Alpha. (Giving Away Content, Part I and Part II). The feedback from readers was invaluable. You made your ideas clear to me, and it helped me clarify my position with Seeking Alpha.

Well, dear readers, its time once again to ask you for some advice.

The management at Seeking Alpha added a tab for their macro-economic commentary. As you can see from the graphic above, they named that tab The Big Picture. Yes, its macro economic commentary; No, it has nothing to do with me or this site. I learned of this when several of you wrote into me about your
confusion. And, management at Seeking Alpha informed me
(in writing) that numerous readers of theirs were confused by this also.

As soon as I learned of this, I fired off an email or 3 informing Seeking Alpha’s CEO that this was unacceptable to me. I insisted it be changed immediately. They refused. I find this intolerable.

Why is this so problematic to me? Well, aside from the obvious confusion (can they be that politically tone deaf, or are they that dumb?) its an issue for other reasons. Whether or not they have the legal right to this is not my beef — it is besides the point — instead, it is simply wrong for them to do so. 

I have the following problems with SA grabbing my blog name:

1) It shows how little respect Seeking Alpha has for bloggers. If they would do this to my blog, one of the most trafficked in this vertical space, then what’s to stop them from doing something similar or or worse to any other blogger? I have a platform, a few million monthly page views — what is going to stop them from screwing anyone else? It is my opinion that they would not hesitate to do something obviously inappropriate, misleading and similarly obnoxious to other bloggers;

2) This demonstrates how horrific senior management’s judgement is. Its hard to fathom that they do not understand my problem with this, or how totally wrong it is on their part. In my correspondence with them, they were almost coy about it. (Too bad they ain’t publicly traded, cause I would be shorting the hell out of it);

3) The actions of Seeking Alpha show they completely disrespect me, and all of the work I put into this blog over the past 5 years. If they did respect for me, they would have chosen  any of the remaining 500,000 words in the English language instead of using the precise three I named my blog 5 years ago, and my email newsletter 5 years before that;

4) Lastly, this reveals to me the inherent problem with what I call the LEECH BUSINESS MODEL. When you build your entire business on the efforts of others, fail to compensate them, pay them a share of the advertising revenue their content generates, or give them an equity interest in the firm — then it subtly impacts your views of the world; Its as if you think its okay to take whatever you want.  At least, that’s my theory about this.

Now, let me be clear: I do not own the trademark to The Big Picture — its too common
a phrase for that. And, there are several other blogs with
similar names — however, most are  photography related, and the few financially
related sites that borrowed the name generate very little traffic. Some newspapers use it as the title of a section. HOWEVER, NONE OF THEM ARE FINANCIAL BLOG AGGREGATORS THAT I CONTRIBUTE TO. Or at least used to.

So once again, dear readers, I ask you for your advice.

What is the appropriate response to this? What shall I do, and how far shall I take this? My initial instinct was to go Clockwork Orange on them, but quite bluntly, they are not worthy of that much attention. They are obviously judgment impaired, lacking in a sense of appropriateness, and as managers of content providers (i.e., bloggers), they are piss poor.

Here are my first (obvious) responses:

1) Stop submitting my content to them (Done)

2) Request readers email the CEO (David@SeekingAlpha.com) telling him what you think of this (Yes, readers, please do!)

3) Send a Cease & Desist letter; File an Unfair Trade Practices lawsuit. (Under consideration)

Now comes the audience participation part — what do you think I should do?

What response does this act deserve? How should I handle this affront? How aggressively should I pursue these weasels?

Please use the comments to tell me your most clever ideas — don’t worry about being too nefarious — I will run everything by our crack legal team first.Get medievil on their asses.

What say ye?

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UPDATE: September 9, 2008  1:15pm

Thank you for the many great ideas and emails — over 200 comments overnight, and almost as many emails.

To answer a few questions from comments — Yes, I received an email from them, but it was after the fact
— I was on vacation when it was sent, I read it after the changes were
already made. They never
followed up, never made a telephone call, never sent any other emails
— AND NEVER RECEIVED AN EMAIL BACK FROM ME. I sure as hell never responded "Sure, go ahead!" (But they
know this).

In fact, their email said they were
"considering" doing this — and then they asked their readers for other name
suggestions. By the time I read it, the new tab had already launched.
And, I sent them an email immediately complaining, and demanding it be
dropped.

I asked in writing for them to call me Friday — the never did. They jerked me around Friday morning, then late
Friday, until they said could not talk until after the weekend. They
are located in Israel and the Sabbath was starting. I asked again on Monday for a call — and got nothing. This was 3 words in a tab that would take no
time or resources to change — its a minor edit my retarded cat could
do drunk on catnip.

They did inform me they "might" change it whenever their next code update was — but never said when that might be — weeks, months years? They certainly never said "WE ARE CHANGING THIS IN 5 DAYS." By the time we got this far in the email discussions, I was pretty much done with them. Regardless, to change 3 words of text –THREE WORDS! — might  have taken all of 4 seconds.

My entire sense of this was that I was being baited, tested, pushed to see how far I would go. Several other bloggers told me the SA CEO wanted a big fuss, anted the reaction. That’s why I did not link to any of their discussions of this. I did not want to give them the traffic they sought or any Google love. Its that simple.

And while the CEO of Seeking Alpha claims that most of SA’s readers never heard of my blog, all I can do at that is laugh and say "Bullshit."

Finally, as to their CEO’s comments — it is simply not worth it to take apart his post line-by-line. I could post his emails, but its not worth it. Its almost accurate (close, but no cigar) with just enough not-quite-true, but close enough to be misleading. I have no more patience for a hair splitting exercise that is irrelevant. As many of you have written, we all have bigger fish to fry.

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UPDATE 2: September 10, 2008  12:0pm

A few people wrote in to tell me that SA’s CEO re-posted on this. I read what was a very disingenuous timeline. His version distorts reality enough that he should be working for the NAR.

Their CEO’s explanation was as misleading as it was smarmy.  He mentioned Random Roger’s blog — Funny, here’s what Random Roger wrote to them:

"I hope all is well. A quick comment about the new ETF page layout; the new latest articles and today’s articles tabs seem a little less easy to navigate and would seem to overlap each other. Here’s one vote for the simple chronological listing of articles.

The other thing was the Big Picture tab. Sure a generic term like Big Picture may be fair game but when I first saw it I immediately thought Barry had been given his own tab. I could not win a debate and I have no articulate argument for telling you to change the name of that tab but it just seems odd. It is probably right to say that anyone who bothers to seek content on blogs and blog portals like SA knows who Barry is and is familiar with The Big Picture. Not trying to pick a fight just giving my cent or two."

Thank you, Roger!

Then there was this unsolicited and spontaneous outpouring of affection:

"I am not going to post any further articles on seeking alpha until you remove "The Big Picture" tab and apologize to Barry Ritholtz.  I am going to publish a comment on same and will begin to encourage other bloggers to follow my example.  I understand from Barry that you have committed to taking this action, so I apologize for rattling your cage if this change already is in process." 

Best,

Christopher Whalen, Managing Director
www.institutionalriskanalytics.com

Thank you Chris!

Two final points:

SA’s CEO mentioned their traffic is 20X mine. Well, it better be! They
have 500 contributors, and a staff of 40, and I AM ONE GUY. Their
traffic should be 1,000s of times more than mine. To be blunt, 20X me with a cast of 1000s is nothing to brag about — its embarrassing.

Lastly, SA’s CEO accused me of using a "Sledgehammer." That was a Nerf bat. I don’t pull out the  sledgehammer until I get to around step 7; The piledriver is step 15 (it comes right after the barbwire dildo), the Sherman Tank step 25. But it will never come don’t to that, as the VC investment will be marked-to-zero long before we ever see step 10 or so (14 is my fave). 

Trust me on this, I know precisely what I speak of here.

Thanks again for all of your emails, and the outpouring of support . . .

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What's been said:

Discussions found on the web:
  1. TDL commented on Sep 8

    No cease & desist, but no longer contribute & completely ignore them.

    Regards,
    TDL

  2. Mark commented on Sep 8

    Speaking from some experience in the trademark arena, here’s my best advice:

    Name your blog: “TheBigPicture”

    Check with your attorney on my suggestion pronto, but this should hold up. I just searched the U.S. Patent and Trademark’s site via TESS (their trademark search engine) and it is indeed freely available right now.

    Would advise that you then go to http://www.uspto.gov and file for the trademark. Right away.

  3. dis commented on Sep 8

    medieval — the beginning of the end for Seeking Alpha

  4. Kincihp commented on Sep 8

    I would select a new, similar name (like “The Bigger Picture”) and trademark it now while you go forward. This problem will not go away and it’s best to have a long range plan in addition to the immediate response.

  5. Indiana commented on Sep 8

    Sue the bastards. It’s the american way. At least for now.

  6. Maj Tom commented on Sep 8

    BR,

    I too was confused last time I checked out their site – but in the end, it doesn’t really matter. Your site is awesome, theirs has limited value.

    Really, not worth the time you have already invested. Yeah, kinda frustrating when someone “steals” your name, but after I clicked on their site and realized you weren’t there – I left the site.

    Why cause yourself the headache – just keep on producing this masterpiece of a site and others like myself will refrain from theirs.

    Keep up the good work and relax to a little Zeppelin – The Rain Song – with a bottle of German Riesling or Scotch.

  7. patient renter commented on Sep 8

    Blogging is very much a community, so the first thing that comes to mind, at least to me, is to organize a boycott within the community of finance/economics related blogs. I’m not sure why anyone allows their content to be posted on seeking alpha. Perhaps it’s time that it stop.

  8. cdrueallen commented on Sep 8

    register domain names like “seekalpha.com” and “seekinalpha.com” (both of which seem to be available) and point them at your blog site.

    Inexpensive, easy, legal, and annoying.

  9. Hayduke commented on Sep 8

    DOS heh heh

  10. RenoDino commented on Sep 8

    Change your name to Seeking Alpha’s Ass In A Sling.

  11. IDunno commented on Sep 8

    Maybe you should pick a name that isn’t so generic?

    Do copyright laws cover names that are so generic or phrases that are as common as “The Big Picture”?

  12. Winston Munn commented on Sep 8

    Tell Hank Paulson that Seeking Alpha is undercapitalized.

  13. Joe commented on Sep 8

    Since you have a relationship with thestreet.com, maybe you could get them to threaten to yank their content from seekingalpha.

  14. 2cents commented on Sep 8

    Barry, I like TDL’s suggestion. This will give you legal standing. On the whole though, I think you’re making too much out of it. I know, I’m not the one who has invested the coutless hours and $$ getting your site to where it is today.

    I do understand your disgust, and I appreciate reading what you have to say and consider the fact that Seeking Alpha wouldn’t work with you as inconsiderate. The least they could do is change Big to Bigger or call it Wide Angle or something similar without affecting their intent.

    As mom always said you don’t have to throw rocks back!

  15. mhm commented on Sep 8

    Maybe a “Service Mark” is more appropriate. Your claim for using it (actively for years) in the context of financial analysis (or whatever) should be easily approved.

    “””
    What is a service mark?

    A service mark is any word, name, symbol, device, or any combination, used, or intended to be used, in commerce, to identify and distinguish the services of one provider from services provided by others, and to indicate the source of the services.
    “””

    http://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/tac/tmfaq.htm#DefineServiceMark

  16. chrtxmnr commented on Sep 8

    Go with “The Real Big Picture”. The quality of this site sets it apart from others of lower quality (SA) and it will be there readers who are disappointed with the inferior content.

  17. GeorgeH commented on Sep 8

    Yes, try trademarking “TheBigPicture” in relation to a financial information and opinion information site. Also, you might try something like “Barry’s Big Picture” or “Barry on the Big Picture”.

    George

  18. PeterR commented on Sep 8

    Barry,

    Why do keep ranting about your rights to the fairly common phrase and name “The Big Picture?” [“TBP”]

    You are an incredibly bright, and even more so prolific writer. What’s up with the stuck record?

    I have reminded you before that my public list at StockCharts.com used the “TBP” on 8/30/01. Please search your archives for all the links.

    Please check this SCC 9/9/01 newsletter for a 9/7/01 COMPQ chart:

    http://stockcharts.com/commentary/archives/cww20010909h.html

    Not to mention that book titles, and I assume titles in general, are not able to be copyrighted.

    With all the problems in the world, maybe you could move on?

    Thanks,

    Peter

  19. wisdom-seeker commented on Sep 8

    I’d go with “The Big Picture by Barry Ritholz” and lock up the legal rights. Although “The Biggest Picture” came to mind, I think that’s reserved for the cosmologists.

    Meanwhile, for those who’d like to upgrade Hayduke’s “denial of service” idea to “tie up David Jackson on the phone”, here’s the contact info from Seeking Alpha website: “If you would like to contact us by phone, please call Seeking Alpha founder David Jackson on (718) 548-4666.” Just sayin’…

  20. Sherman McCoy commented on Sep 8

    I think the most effective thing you have ever done to combat bozoism is inventing the phrase “Bensteinery” and, more importantly, using it over and over.

    I notice that you’ve used that in all sorts of situations, and it’s a very effective way of continually pointing out how much of an idiot Ben Stein is.

    You should do something similar here. Create the label “Seeking Alpha-Idiocy” or something like that and use it anytime any web business acts like a bunch of morons.

    Or, even better, create an award! The Big Picture’s “Seeking Alpha Memorial Award for Web-Based Stupidity”. You can ask your readers for nominations. Special consideration given to mentally-challenged upper management. Keep it going for a few blog posts and each time mention how this situation started it all.

  21. KirkH commented on Sep 8

    Easy, just add a section to your blog called ‘Seeking Alfa’ with all of the best pictures of LOLCats from around the web (and an explanation of why it’s there).

    Alfa can be the name of your new mascot (mascat?).

  22. swami commented on Sep 8

    i was confused as well. but it took me less than a millisecond to realize it wasn’t the big picture i was looking for.

    i say ignore them.. (if possible generate as much negative comments about their behavior as possible and write to the people who write in that segment and tell them to be careful so their work does not leeched as well)

  23. vboring commented on Sep 8

    I came to be a regular reader via your posts submitted to SA.

    I’d hope that you can work something out with them so others like me can get tuned in.

    Their tab should really be called something like “Macro” anyway. “The Big Picture” is a bit informal for their tab scheme.

  24. Tom J commented on Sep 8

    Tell the scrotum necks at Seeking Alpha to start Seeking Counsel!! No more Mr. Nice Guy bullshit. As I learned in law school “Look to your left,look to your right…sue everyone in sight”.

    Take A Report- Admin

  25. Saint Xinon commented on Sep 8

    Dear B,

    I am big fan of your trading newsletters and blog. I am trained in law for litigation on IPR.

    I am sorry to inform you,
    1> you have no moral rights on generic words in English language.
    2> Legally macroeconomic picture can be represented by the exact phrase which is generic enough.

    So even I support you in your actions and attitude, very legally speaking you have no moral rights on the simple phrase like. “The big picture” “Morning glory” “walking tall” and so on…..

  26. BB in MTL commented on Sep 8

    Two words – David Einhorn

  27. chad commented on Sep 8

    Dickwads are everywhere, but this isn’t worth your time other than the trademarking and working connections where possible as mentioned above.
    I Googled The Big Picture and their site isn’t even on the first page of results… so who cares. If they were really abusing the name they would be there trying to drive traffic. If they were there, then I’d go postal.
    Everyone else will know the difference anyway.

  28. Stack commented on Sep 8

    Simply change the name. It’s difficult to create a brand with such a common phrase.

    I’m sure there is a name that will project the exact image or brand you want.

    For example, I have a friend who changed the name of their daycares (5 in all) from something like “Kids n Tots Care” to finally settle DBA “Inspire”.

    Bottom line is your readers and followers come here to read your opinion and content.

    Much better response with much better families.

  29. Steve Jobless tweeted on Sep 8

    First of all I just want to say I read both blogs and I think your blog is better, both in quality of content and comments. SA’s comments really suck. I don’t know why since everybody seems to be reading it. But your community is definitely more engaging.

    That said my advice is to not do any of the things listed above. Those sorts of protections and liabilities are the domain of traditional media models and I believe don’t translate as well into the blogosphere. You win by focusing on creating killer content, engaging your users and being passionate. you’ve got character, SA is pretty bland in comparison. Although now it looks like Macro Man is cross posting over there so maybe they are catching on to the whole triangle trading thing and the US equities analyst focus of the site will diminish. But I doubt it. Stay focused on ‘The Big Picture’ with more rigorous commentary and we will stay with you!

  30. Rob commented on Sep 8

    Call their VCs — its Michael Eisenberg of Benchmark Capital.

    Let him know that Seeking Alpha is run by idiots, and that they have alienated the top blogger in the space. These comments also seem to have very empathetic responses from other bloggers. Tell him that also.

    Be polite, but firm. Let them know their management team are not very bright.

    Tell them to mark their SA investment to zero, cause when you are through with them, they will be damaged goods.

  31. TraderGreg commented on Sep 8

    Barry,

    Ignore them.

    You can beat them in their own game. You can do the same thing as SeekingAlpha, and most likely much better. Redesign your website, and become top integrator, replacing the a$$holes from SA.

    Best

  32. DJ Johnson commented on Sep 8

    LOL. The Paulson riff is going to be hard to beat.
    In actuality, SA is not going to be competing as a variation of “Big Picture”. Eyeballs must already be at SA, to run across the phrase.
    So I say mess with them. Pick “all the above”.

    My modest contribution is to suggest a fake “rename the site” contest. Come up with something supremely cheesy as the winner. SA< as the slimeballs they are; will immediately appropriate said cheesy name, leaving you with the original.

  33. nk commented on Sep 8

    I also saw a segment on cnbc (around lunch time) with the caption “the big picture”. Everyone is picking you off!

    Come up with a new name with the new web design launch. You would not miss a beat. You have earned the traffic at this point. What have these other jokers gotten right?

  34. Gary commented on Sep 8

    Get all the other *good* bloggers together (so you can leave out guys like Mark Perry), sign a letter of intent between all of you, then start a separate web site for bloggers. You could add in some automated RSS feeds, and maybe include some charts like SPY, gold, all that stuff. Add in some calculators like a Fair Value calculator for seeing if stocks are a good deal, include a tab that links to international markets and cites the current PE of each market so that readers can get an idea of waht markets are over and under priced, basically strip Seekingalpha of their content.

    I’ve got a great busines guy who could put this deal together (no it isn’t me).

  35. Brad commented on Sep 8

    I noticed that new tab today as well. First thing I thought, “Wow, Barry must have decided to partner with SA…wait, wtf(!), this isn’t Barry’s stuff!”

  36. Nouriel commented on Sep 8

    Kill their business model.

    Set up a competitive blog aggregator. Offer an advertising revenue sharing arrangement. Give equity to contributors.

    Bye bye Seeking Alpha!

  37. cfe commented on Sep 8

    They are clearly jealous of your superior site and are deliberately trying to confuse readers into thinking you’re connected to them somehow. Any blogger with half a brain will quickly realize that your site is where the good stuff is and won’t waste another second at that copy-cat site.

  38. MG commented on Sep 8

    Send a Cease and Desist Letter. It will protect your interests, you may otherwise waive by remaining idle.

    I’m also a USB alum, and just graduated from Fordham Law. Your my idol. Maybe I can ask the pro bono director at my new firm.

    Otherwise, great job Barry and keep up the good work. Imitation is the best form of flattery.

  39. bruce Banister commented on Sep 8

    emailed Seeking Alfalfa telling them they have not an ounce of class.

  40. Winston Munn commented on Sep 8

    Maybe a better idea is to transform your The Big Picture into something that is protected or can be protected.

    With no knowledge of law in this area, I wonder if using a certain type and color combination could be considered trademark?

  41. amin khoury commented on Sep 8

    Hi Barry:

    I really like your site; thanks for your good work.

    “First Use” can protect words and phrases used in commerce. I would ask your IP attorneys to review the issue for you; as you have a first use in financial media as far as I am aware.

    As for the C&D letter, you almost have to send it. If you don’t, a court could take the view that you did not protect your rights to the phrase and therefore don’t have a “first-use” right…

    I am not an IP attorney, but I have highered many and have litigated a bunch of IP issues.

    Based on my read of the issue; my business man’s take is that you should tell them
    “F-U, take it down, you are damaging my business and brand with each passing minute; letter from an angry, expensive lawyer to follow”…Thanks again for the blog content….ACK

  42. Mich(^IXIC1881) commented on Sep 8

    1-) Whenever you show up on TV, it never mentions TBP, it is always FusionIQ or Ritholtz Analytics, etc.

    2-) The big picture isn’t all that unique and interesting name anyway

    3-) I didn’t google “the big picture” to find your blog, nor do I think a website’s name is any indication of its content. (see the names “yahoo”, “google”, “cisco” to realize name has nothing to do with value or content)

    So, just find yourself a new, unique name and go with it… Since it is a blog, it make sense to make yourself the brand, hence “Ritholtz and Friends” makes a lot of sense to me (and let Kudlow be pissed at obvious similarity in naming)

  43. oh brother commented on Sep 8

    Despite any initial confusion, it doesn’t take long to realize SA’s big picture tab has nothing to do with “The Big Picture.”

    I occasionally follow links to SA, and sometimes what I find is worthwhile. I visit BP several times a day, and what I find is invaluable.

    Be “Big”. Let it go. Your work speaks for itself.

  44. constantnormal commented on Sep 8

    Branding is important, and this is clearly intended to associate Seeking Alpha with The Big Picture, and gain some coattails effect.

    Spill some bucks and consult professional legal help. See if they think it is fixable. If it is, trademark and/or copyright your site, and go after Seeking Alpha to recover your legal expenses.

    ps — I’m going to unsubscribe to Seeking Alpha immediately, although it will accomplish little. But there is something to standing up for what’s right.

  45. Lorenzo commented on Sep 8

    Shame them. Just send an info email to other bloggers (the ones on your blogroll) that SA has a tab that’s confusing and that it’s not your site. They’ll helpfully inform their readers with appropriate commentary.

  46. RF commented on Sep 8

    Never fight with someone who has less to lose than you do. Sounds to me as if you could burn up lots of time, money and energy dealing with clueless bums if you sued. As many have posted you might even have difficulty showing irreparable harm here, especially if you get a judge who does not have any idea of the time and effort you devote to the work product that you deliver on this site. Trademark the name, then legal remedies are available. But I am preaching to the choir. Thanks for the site, it is an enormous contribution to the public forum.

    Best regards,
    RF

  47. will commented on Sep 8

    You may not have the trademark for “The Big Picture” at this moment and you may have been denied it in the past because it was too general at the time. But now, it may be a valid trademark of your business in a *very* small area of commerce that would rule out seeking alpha’s use on the web. The fact that most people know that “the big picture” refers, in the financial blog world to your website means it might be the mark of your trade. The trademark would certainly be retro-active to a date earlier than SA. You want a really effective intellectual property lawyer.

    You could also try for a mark on “the big picture with the sideways “the” and then argue about its violation.

  48. Notable commented on Sep 8

    BR,

    As many have said it eloquently before, the problem is that you’re using a very generic phrase. Whenever someone talks about looking at the big picture in our meetings, I never take it that they’re referring to your blog, even if we’re talking about the economy and finance. By the way, there are many other sites that are using the ‘big picture’ phrase to talk about economy if you consider a google search. Just leave them alone and as you said, stop contributing to SA site.

  49. pants commented on Sep 8

    We all know who is the real The Big Picture. I don’t have many colleagues at my trading desk who would confuse Seeking Alpha’s link with your site. Most of us have been reading your site for years, and aren’t confused.

    It might confuse new readers though, which is a problem. Maybe a link/banner on your site exclaiming, “This blog has nothing to do with Seeking Alpha” would send them a message.

    Since you have a lot of power in this financial blogosphere, I agree with others that you should enlist your blogosphere friend’s help in shaming Seeking Alpha.

  50. Max commented on Sep 8

    You could rename your site to Barry’s Big Picture or The Barry, Barry Big Picture.

  51. Namazu commented on Sep 8

    They aggregate a lot of total crap. It’s maybe a step above the food chain from Motley Fool’s user-generated content. Why hang around a bad neighborhood? If a handful of other high-profile types leave with you, pretty soon it won’t matter what they label the tabs.

  52. Peter North commented on Sep 8

    Enlist the assistance of other bloggers.

    Send an email to the top 20 or 30.

    Let them know that SeekingAlfalfa doesn’t respect them, might borrow their name at any time. Tell them to write an email to this David jackass.

    You have to wonder WTF this moron was thinking . . .

  53. fatbear commented on Sep 8

    1 – there are protections for the unique use of common phrases (i.e., “Just do it!”) in circumstances where the use clearly identifies a specific source – your use of TBP would seem to have substantial chance to qualify in the website area – IIRC, first registration is not necessary (this isn’t patent or copyright)

    2 – talk to a good IP atty, one who specializes trademark and Lanham Act – you should know some – if you want a name or two, contact me via e-mail (I’ve produced a few hit kiddie TV shows, so I know a little)

    3 – don’t do any more than your first two items until and unless you talk to your atty of choice – you do not want to make a mistake that clouds your claim – believe me, it’s very easy to do so and it can be very expensive to claw back the mistake

  54. nmewn commented on Sep 8

    Stop contributing to them.

    Your site is a must read daily…sometimes I check them sometimes I don’t.

  55. Richard commented on Sep 8

    Barry —

    The Big Picture is the best, and my go-to site for straight talk and financial insight.

    That said, I’d no longer submit content to SA, and simply ignore them. Particularly since you really have no legal recourse in the matter.

    Losing your valuable content is their fault… and their loss. I wouldn’t let it distract you.

  56. crabbybill commented on Sep 8

    BR
    The golden rule of business– “Even is nice, paybacks are a bitch”. You must always pay your debts in full, with interest! It’s the professional or lawyerly thing to do.

    1.I usually start with a list of the things that people do to me (or on my site if I had one) that I find aggravating and time consuming and try to share with my newfound project– paying my debt.
    2. I usually find that free subscriptions to some well chosen services or requests for some info with followup gets the juices flowing. Porn is always a good place to start, but I would have to believe that these people need some web services from eastern europe or china.
    3. I need some Jack D- it has been too long since I had to payback, need to think
    Good Luck

  57. Red commented on Sep 8

    Hire your old firm to sue them into oblivion for infringing your common law trademark.

  58. Steve Barry commented on Sep 8

    rename it The Ritholtz Word

  59. Owner Earnings commented on Sep 8

    BR, it aint worth your time to fuk with it.

    Just look at the bailout today.

    Great investors don’t complain, they invest accordingly.

  60. constantnormal commented on Sep 8

    Here’s what I sent Seeking Alpha upon unsubscribing:

    “I am writing to explain why I have unsubscribed from Seeking Alpha.

    Your use of the label “The Big Picture” strikes me as a blatant attempt to rip off Barry Ritholtz use of that name. Whether he has adequately protected it legally via trademark or copyright is beside the point. You could have chosen any of a number of similar names (The Larger Scheme of Things, The Global Picture, The Larger View, etc), but you did not, even when requested to by Barry.

    None of your content is original. You merely re-post the work of others, and that is a useful service, but not an indispensable one. I can visit David Fry’s blog or Phil Davis’ blog and not go through Seeking Alpha. I do not have to participate in Seeking Alpha.

    Play nice.”

    My rationale for dropping them is merely the preservation of karma. There’s enough crap in the world today without letting more just slide by. The rest of you can (and will) do as your consciences dictate, but this is one way that I can stand up and say ENOUGH.

  61. Buzz commented on Sep 8

    Barry,

    I’ve been lurking on this site for a while. While I agree with many here that the name of your blog isn’t that strong, it’s still works now, and is effectively descriptive for the perspective you provide in these very trying times. So I think you should take a couple of the suggestions here
    1) ask readers once again to email SA and tell them it’s worse than confusing – it’s offensive and they’re going to lose traffic.
    2) enlist the support of those on your blogroll to do the same
    3) follow up on the ‘SERVICE MARK’ path – that seems a way to accomplish what you want, while side-stepping the ‘generic’ argument.
    4) send the C & D letter

    Keep up the great work. Your blog makes me feel like there’s still some hope of the world making sense…

  62. Tom commented on Sep 8

    The Big Picture – by Barry Ritholtz

  63. Frank commented on Sep 8

    Barry, perhaps you can use the launch of your revamped website to change the name to something that can be trademarked. I’m not sure The Big Picture is the best description of your blog to begin with. Why not run a contest for folks to submit what they believe is a better description of the value you provide your readers. Set up a button on your website that enables readers to input their suggestion(s), but keep the suggestions secret until you’ve chosen the winning entry. File for the trademark and then announce it to the world.

  64. Mitchn commented on Sep 8

    Don’t change the name of your blog. In the financial/macro economics space you “own” The Big Picture meme.

    Remove SA from your blog roll.

    Do not mention, refer, or point to anything on the SA site.

    On occasion, (gently) ask/remind your loyal readers not to leave comments on the SA site.

    Launch the redesigned site you’ve been promising us. The best defense is a good offense.

    Keep up the great work. You’re smarter, a harder worker, and a better writer than anyone over there. Just don’t forget to stop and smell the roses every once in a while. Life is short — sometimes too short (just ask Tim Russert).

    Peace, brother.

  65. bdg123 commented on Sep 8

    I never visit that site. Their content sucks. The reality is you have nothing to worry about other than being emotionally wounded that someone could hose you like that. (Hint, hint. Do I hear a damages lawsuit? lol) That said, they obviously understand the lack of enforcement of trademark issues and are purposefully and consciously jamming their finger in your eye. Especially if you have decided not to allow your content to be published on their site after discussions about that very fact.

    I’m not an attorney (and you obviously are) but this trademark issue is somewhat fluid and you likely have some legal legitimacy. Trademarks don’t need to be submitted or approved to be legitimate. Use defines legitimacy under the law. So, the very fact that yours is the only financial blog on earth with that very specific name entitles you to some rights under the law. The fact that they are also a financial blogging site, JUST started using TBP and have had prior unsuccessful conversations with you about using your content might be enough to jam a stick back in their eye. It simply depends on how important it is to you and how much are you willing to spend to protect TBP.

    You really should talk to a trademark or IP attorney.

  66. larrybob commented on Sep 8

    add a tab called “seeking alfalfa” for examples of bensteinery-isms like the writings of donald luskin or sarah palin’s insights of the housing crisis or the ever astute observations of the economists over at the NAR; you know, the stuff that tears your hair out everyday that you read it when it doesn’t make you burst out laughing. i’m sure you can get the same color scheme of seeking alpha and the picture of alfalfa is in the common domain…point made. brad delong has the shrillblog, you will have seeking alfalfa.

  67. ottnott commented on Sep 8

    There are several types of responses you could try, and you should probably go with the type of response that feels right to you (though I worry that your inner LIRR Commuter From Hell might go crazy and get you in trouble.

    First type of response: Seeking who?

    Ignore them. They will wither away as they burn their decent sources.

    Second type of response: All business.

    Consult with the appropriate attorney. Because you previously let them use your material, you might have standing that doesn’t depend on trademark. SA has already admitted that the tab has been confusing readers. Don’t forget to show the attorney a screen grab of your profile page, where the tab labeled “The Big Picture” sits above the text stating that “Mr. Ritholtz is a frequent contributor to many leading financial publications and writes The Big Picture, an insightful, popular and vibrant weblog.” The goal here would be two things – SA removes your profile and all your previous contributions, and SA provides a disclaimer (acceptable to you and your attorney) on their The Big Picture tab.

    An added step that I think worthwhile is to share your experience with bloggers that know you and contribute to SA. You would just ask them what they think about it, and stop short of lobbying them to cut SA off. The ones willing to stop contributing to SA will come to that conclusion on their own.

    Third type of response: The Untouchables (“You wanna know how you do it? Here’s how, they pull a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue.”)
    I don’t think you need to go there, but it is fun to think about. I picture a regular feature where you select from reader-contributed examples of the worst of the advice and analysis found on S-A.

  68. Pam commented on Sep 8

    The do nothing solution does presents itself but it’s uncomfortably elitist ( Those who know know where to go.).

    Put up a note about the leech and leave it at that.

    Your fans will direct traffic.

  69. Diogenes commented on Sep 8

    BR.. don’t fight it.. Just change your Blog’s name to “The Big Pitcher” and discuss baseball or beer (or both.. ;)

    But seriously, what can you do?? TheBigPicture is the best idea.. but I imagine some entrepreneur (other than you) will have that bagged within an hour and then ask you to buy it from them.. ;0)

    Better to just put out a better product, require any content you provide to them to bear a link to your blog, and it will generate additional traffic for you.

    Don’t be so Parochial, especially when there is no barrier to entry for such business content. If you’re not part of Alpha’s “big picture” then that limits your audience.

    Dio

  70. Chris commented on Sep 8

    BR:

    I think you have taken the high road thus far. Inform your readers. They may choose to take action (I dropped Dave a note that I could easily read one less site a day if I had to) or not, but in the end, your insightful commentary is your best weapon. Trust that the right audience will find you, and the use of a very common phrase by a site with marginal added value will not significantly impact you over the log term.

    Spend your resources on what you do best – your blog.

  71. B-rad commented on Sep 8

    That’s fucked up, fight them and all the haters you have her in the comments. To the death.

  72. Mark E Hoffer commented on Sep 8

    their site design says it all, they suck, and they’d gladly suck more if it involed the promise pay-off.

    I still can’t believe that some dude trots around town calling himself “CEO” of a site like that. (Did I miss something, or 1998 really was ten years ago(?))

  73. la grande poussée commented on Sep 8

    You are in NYC – The rules are different. Don’t waste your time with legal BS.

    Call up the CEO of Seeking Alpha and ask him to meet you at Sparks for dinner. Have a drink with him – and keep a nice smile on your face. Then relate a deal he cannot refuse. Excuse yourself from the table – go get a cab and meet your wife for a drink
    make a deal with one of “the boys” to sit down in your chair and say to the CEO “what’s it gona be?” Have another walk up to the table and say,”The car is waiting for both of you” – Then wait for the CEO to ask “Is there someway I can get out of this?” “Idono” says “the big boy” “You got somethin in mind? – say it now!”

    This is NY – it’s that easy Barry – go to an acting school and get you some “big boy”
    and give em $500 a piece – no laws have been broken….Sparks is quiet enough – no one hears – nothin!

  74. A Musician commented on Sep 8

    BR Wrote : 4- Lastly, this reveals to me the inherent problem with what I call the LEECH BUSINESS MODEL. When you build your entire business on the efforts of others, fail to compensate them, pay them a share of the advertising revenue their content generates, or give them an equity interest in the firm — then it subtly impacts your views of the world; Its as if you think its okay to take whatever you want. At least, that’s my theory about this.”

    LOL !!!!, my friend

    As another poster above I am a Musician too, and I am glad that your are tasting a little bit of our sweet pain.

    It feels good, doesn’t it?

    Well, Barry , maybe Seeking Alpha thinks that your business model is old.

    Good luck,
    and no hard feelings, I still like your blog and I recommend it.

    Welcome to the copyright world !

  75. Mark E Hoffer commented on Sep 8

    dio,

    with this: “there is no barrier to entry for such business content”, make sure you have some oil in your lamp, in the dark it’s hard to see clearly.

    “your insightful commentary is your best weapon.” Chris, and others, get this right.

    “no barrier to entry” –Wow! We should be so lucky.

    Past that, there are only so many battles we’ll engage, make sure they count, then make them count.

  76. kimo commented on Sep 8

    Many good comments here.

    Perhaps this might help;

    Create a tab on your page, “Seeking Alfalfa”, and link to this post. Cull and freeze the comments.

    Move on; we need you doing what you do so well.

    Thanks,
    Kimo

  77. Mike G commented on Sep 8

    We had a similar situation when a website copied word for word all of our content and built a competing site to ours. We are an M&A Firm specializing in Internet and Internet Technology businesses. After raising hell they made a few changes, but not enough to really be significant. In the end I decided to not waste energy on it and realized copy cats is the best form of flattery. Besides we just kick that company’s ass with outstanding service as you do with outstanding content. So I would let it be unless of course they start plagarizing the your content.

  78. Muzie commented on Sep 8

    So what exactly is the incentive for bloggers to contribute to SeekingAlpha if they’re not paid? Just hits?

    I’ve noticed a trend where the better blogs eventually generate enough traffic directly to their website such that several simply stop submitting to SA, so SA’s has been degrading.

    SA don’t look to me like such a sustainable business model to me right now…

  79. floating stinging butterfly commented on Sep 8

    what? shouldn’t you be now analyzing in detail the Asian market’s reaction (every sector from Korea to Antarctica) to today’s action in detail and posting post after post of insightful info for free so we can get a clue about what the hell is goin’ on??

    oh sorry …

    But really, the fact that you provide consistent, insightful, valuable commentary for free to the world (and work weekends when the master tinkerers tinker) is a public service that is beyond value, truly. We all owe you much. The community you’ve created has allowed the hoi polloi access to great financial insight that we’d never, ever have access to. Priceless. That alone should command more respect.

    Lead your minions into war and we’ll wield keyboards and mouses and round up the enemy and herd them into gitmo by the platte for the rest of the trading session and beyond!! Mount the stallions now, pinheads!!

    oops, sorry.

    There’s merit in the

    * Blow it off
    * Sit down w/ SA and chat (they mentioned their hesitance w/ the name last week in a post) — I got the impression they knew of the conflict
    * Use FusionIQ — it’ll promote the brand immensely

    approaches.

    Ultimately, it’s your call. I think this community will support you whatever you decide.

    P&T law is called ‘the sport of kings’ for a reason. It’s draining. It’s expensive. It’s not worth it.

    Regards —

  80. Mike Alsup commented on Sep 8

    Ignore them completely. To do anything else just gives them publicity. You will win based on content.

  81. Steve Barry commented on Sep 8

    Anybody else despise the word “meme”? If anybody used that word to me in a conversation, I might deck them.

  82. CNBC Sucks commented on Sep 8

    BR – “Big picture” may be too generic. If you really want to raise a fuss about it, you should consult an IP attorney, but I suspect “big picture” has already been used in whatever product or service classification you are targeting (media, financial services, etc.)

    There was at least one CNBC Sucks blog before I created mine. Dude just wasn’t conveying the OUTRAGE that CNBC deserved, so I said, “if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself”. Hence, the blog that changed the CNBC Sucks blog market forever.

    If any of you want to create your own CNBC Sucks t-shirts, hats, jackets, go ahead, as long as you wear it around the CNBC studio, large crowds, or maybe even on TV. All of you are also hereby assigned the privilege to infringe on my new trademark, “NO BIMBOS FOR VICE PRESIDENT”.

  83. Jerry commented on Sep 8

    BR,

    I agree with some people’s suggestion that you can change your blog’s name to like ‘bigger picture’ and trademark it. I hope you can solve this issue once and for all. I love reading your post (everyone of them) and don’t want you to be bothered by that. Thanks and keep up with the good work.

    Jerry

  84. Chris D. commented on Sep 8

    Since they are trying to gain some slingshot effect of off your site’s popularity, I would recommend you try to gain counter-slingshot momentum of your own. Create an “Alpha File” or something on your site that will drive anyone seeking macro insights to you rather than them. If someone tries to use you, use them worse. Some sort of web-positioning strategist could figure it out.

  85. rds1955 commented on Sep 8

    I don’t think you have a leg to stand on… (1) Investors Business Daily has a section called “the Big Picture” and I suspect they’ve been around a tab bit longer than you…(say like the 80’s…)
    http://www.investors.com/editorial/IBDArticles.asp?artsec=2&issue=20080908
    (2) Peter Navvaro, Prof.,Univ. of California-Irvine, teaches an online course called “Big Picture Investing” and he’s been teaching the principles of Big Picture Macroeconomics since at least 2001-2002…
    http://www.recordedbooks.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=scholar.show_course&course_id=21
    (3) Saying you have a right to the macroeconomic term of “Big Picture” is like me saying I have a right to the Term “Global Investing”..
    (4) Unless you have a legal right to use that title as yours alone,and can actually prove such through legal documentation and the legal records are publicly available, I’d let it be…
    (5) How can you justify saying it’s your property when Investors Business daily has been using it in their newspaper way before the Web??
    (6) How come the web address to this site isn’t Thebigpicture.com, instead of typepad.com?

    ~~~

    BR: As I wrote, I dont have the Trademark or own the phrase. I just think its obnoxious of them to use it over my objection.

    None of the other entities you mentioned are financial blog aggregators. It certainly has confused enough people, and I look at it as an attempt to free ride off oif my work.

  86. Paul in NYC commented on Sep 8

    Yeah yeah yeah…. And I was indignant when the courts ruled that Bill Gates could trademake the word ‘Windows”.

    Some of these things simply enter the the realm of the public domain and there is not much you can do about it. Sorry BR. he only other parallel I see is Apple records having it out with APPLE over Itunes.

  87. CT commented on Sep 8

    You should definitely register for seekingassholes.com and then redirect toward their site. Yes – that is a great way to go. Nice.

  88. Mitchn commented on Sep 8

    @floating stinging butterfly

    great post — well said!

  89. Dogwood commented on Sep 8

    Don’t waste your time with a cease and desist letter, just stop submitting content, which I see you have done, then keep this post at the top of your page for awhile so that others may see what type of operation they really are.

  90. Stephen commented on Sep 8

    Barry, I agree that they are disrespecting you. Good question as to why. Seems like a question for a psychiatrist. Revenge is a dish best served cold. I suggest that you contact the other featured authors with a view towards getting a collective agreement on revenue sharing and independent auditing to make that fair. Or find some type of agent to do this on behalf of you and the other authors. Live better – work union!

  91. cap commented on Sep 8

    Sue the bastards!

  92. Dave commented on Sep 8

    I say forget them, and never mention them again. I never even think of their site, except for the few times you have complained about them. Any publicity is good publicity as far as they’re concerned. Mentioning their name here, even if its scathing, probably drives traffic for them.

  93. notsofast friend commented on Sep 8

    You know Barry with all the shit going down right now I think you have just lost sight if The Big Picture… Seems trivial to me that a great blogger such as yourself would give two shits about a name… We all know you are “The Big Picture”. Try not to be so insecure… As the House (that is America) burns before your eyes. Nuf said!

  94. rebound commented on Sep 8

    Barry,

    Don’t sue them. It’s a waste of time. Handle this like a gritty blogger. With a fraction of the money you would spend on a lawyer, instead mail the CEO a six pack of Pabst Blue Ribbon in a box, with bubble wrap, along with a note saying, “Cheers. Please stop being a dick. Regards, Barry”
    Send a package every week, for 52 weeks, and see how long it takes until you wear him down and he becomes a golfing buddy.

  95. Babygal commented on Sep 8

    Done, email sent….

  96. Freddy Mack commented on Sep 8

    HOW do you think I feel???? Everybody treats me like my name is Mudd!
    fm

  97. Hulu commented on Sep 8

    Barry,

    What’s the big deal? Maybe I am missing the big picture here?

    I enjoy your blog, but you are always a big wuz when you are on Kudlow.

  98. Richard Wilson commented on Sep 8

    Send them the letter – your site must make enough money to wage a small lawyer war…does Seeking Alpha really want that bad press?

    I was also confused by that “The Big Picture” Tab. Maybe in response everyone should start a “Seeking Alpha” Tab on their own blogs.

  99. Victor commented on Sep 8

    The first two solutions are acceptable. The last is totally immoral; don’t do it Barry.

  100. William Laird commented on Sep 8

    Give ’em hell barry. WTF? I’m gonna boycott that rag! LOL

  101. matt commented on Sep 8

    Hire some interns. Start a blog aggregator called beatingalpha.com. Compete with seekingalpha and leverage your success here to beat them at their own game. They pass of a lot of crap over at seeking alpha anyway.

  102. john whyms commented on Sep 8

    Dear Barry:
    I would trademark the logo but also take the advice of those who recommend protecting the service mark. As for the Seeking Alpha web site anyone who gives any kind of credence to the content of this web site is not thinking and will eventually get burnt since they are the talking heads for unscrupulous Cramer!

  103. steve commented on Sep 8

    BR,

    When I think of your blog I don’t think “the Big Picture”. I think “Barry Ritholtz’s” blog. Same goes for when I search for your blog. I enter “Barry Rithotz” into Google, not “The Big Picture.” The blog is nothing without you and your insight. Why not try to get more leverage out of your name. Since you are on the tube all the time, smart people will find you.

  104. Ironman commented on Sep 8

    Barry,

    If you’re looking for a classy route, I’d consider running the contest to name the tab that SA didn’t. Make a big production out it. If you can, see if you can get the other 800 pound gorillas to point to the contest to drive traffic to it.

    This will do one of two things – first, it will either shame them into renaming the tab to get back on your good side, or it will force them to disavow the contest, which will create it’s own form of anti-goodwill among its target audience.

    Alternatively, you could take the JMS solution. JMS is J. (Joe) Michael Straczynski, who is (for my money) one of the best writers in TV and movies today (he wrote the script for Changeling which will be in theaters this fall.) Back in the 1990s, he had a problem with a science fiction fan magazine appropriating his comments in a public newsgroup forum that appears to be similar to your situation with SA today. He added the following statement to all his posts:

    (all message content (c) 2001 by synthetic worlds, ltd., permission to reprint specifically denied to SFX Magazine and don’t send me story ideas)

    “synthetic worlds, ltd” was (is?) Joe’s umbrella company for his writing projects at the time.

    I don’t think the statement itself stopped the magazine – but all the inquiries they had about it likely discouraged them. There’s nothing quite like the effect of hundreds or thousands of little stings….

  105. gregg correll commented on Sep 8

    If I was you, I’d put a tab on my site called “Alpha Seeking” and piss on em.

  106. Randy commented on Sep 8

    It’s a generic title, made special here by YOUR opinions. No one is going to mistake one for the other.

    I’d put on some Mingus or Monk, and let it go.

  107. jdogg13 commented on Sep 8

    Create a post first thing every morning and call it “Wall Street Breakfast”.

  108. Read: Ben Franklin commented on Sep 8

    Leverage all of your money fighting them and growing your business.

    Then, right before you blow up, ask us to chip in for a bail out.

  109. Jeff M. commented on Sep 8

    Let it go, Barry. Loyal TBP readers know who the real deal is……

  110. Joe commented on Sep 8

    they are stealinng from you and basically laughing about it, fight them. Also change the name of your site and copyright it, I just assumed U had.

  111. Bill commented on Sep 8

    The situation clearly sucks. These information aggregators provide no value to people who do the work, and provide misinformation to those who don’t. (Ye olde separate wheat from chaff work.) I do IR for a small cap company and we have an aggregator “follow us” – Argus Research. I believe they must pay their research “publishers” $50 per report (thanks Elliott.) First call picks them up yet they are $1.50/share different than all other analysts. Thus our consensus is all messed up. This situation used to bother me immensely. Guess what, it does not now. The people who do the work will figure it out. And I do not care about those who don’t. Forget Seeking Alpha. Drop the anger and seek out that next great cd. T(hose of us willing to do the work will find you and get the value from your insights. (Sorry for the ramble.)

  112. JJ commented on Sep 8

    What would it cost to buy the use of the words: big picture seeking alpha from Google for a few months so that anyone who searches for either gets directed to you for 1-6 months first? If it would work reasonably well, might be cheaper than a lawyer.

  113. Rob P commented on Sep 8

    Barry: Please check your spam filter as I submitted something and it got blocked. Thanks, Rob

  114. David Merkel commented on Sep 8

    Barry, I asked them to change their minds… they like me, so maybe they will listen… uh, yeah, probably not, but I gave it my best soft sell.

  115. Dervin commented on Sep 8

    Lawyer up.

    They are trying to capitalize on your work, create brand confusion and steal traffic away from you.

    IIRC, you are one of the top 5 (top 3) ranked financial blogs out there (you are number one in my wallet and heart). You are famous in the financial web community.

    It’s like opening a restaurant called Per Say.

  116. K Ackermann commented on Sep 8

    What is your most admired blog (besides this), and what would they do?

    Also,

    I’m too busy to fire off a bunch of emails, but I have a mail bomb program that can fire off anywhere between 1 and 100,000 letters a second. The first few can explain a setiment, and the next million or so can can have random subjects and very, very long content.

    I can just run it through a raceway so it is comong from who-knows-where.

    You have my email address.

  117. Bill commented on Sep 8

    My advice? Quit wasting your energy on negativity and backwardation. As an aspiring blogger you are building your brand. You are rightfully upset at someone “borrowing” it, but such is the world of the net.

    I say let them use the phrase – you really can’t stop them anyway right? Heck encourage them to use it, and continue contributing. However, you should insist on credit and more/better linkage to your site. They are essentially advertising your brand. You are most likely to benefit from it the most.

    Keep it positive, keep it flowing encourage coolaberation, build your brand.

  118. K Ackermann commented on Sep 8

    David Merkel
    “It’s like opening a restaurant called Per Say.”

    How about a pool hall named Far Que?

  119. IBGYBG commented on Sep 8

    Don’t lose any sleep over those idiots because that site is a circus in the first place and this just further confuses their already confused readers. Rebrand your site to include your name (Barry Ritholtz The Big Picture or something like that) and register the name. They can use the phrase “the big picture” all day but not with your name attached to it. Without your content or the intellectual capacity to replicate it on their own they are SOL. I must admit that I like others ideas of creating your own blog aggregator because you would probably put those punks out of business. They should be parking your car somewhere anyway.

  120. Monica Starr commented on Sep 8

    Barry — I would rename your blog “Barry Ritholtz’s (punc?) The Big Picture” or “The Big Picture By Barry” if you think readers won’t be able to find your last name.
    I would register this as both a trademark and an Internet domain and have your typepad blog go to some Internet address that says “thebigpicturebybarry.com.”

    For better or for worse, we live in an age of name branding: Martha Stewart’s Living (I know they changed the name), Oprah, Rachael Ray, etc. Put your name into it and then go after Seeking Alpha. Don’t take this lying down. — Monica

  121. No Trademark commented on Sep 8

    I think you should do nothing.

    The “big picture” as both a concept and a figure of speech predates both your blog and their website (and the Internet).

    It’s a ridiculous thing to claim any ownership to, and it will simply encourage others to claim ownership on other ridiculous strings of (one and) two and three word phrases in common usage.

  122. mack commented on Sep 8

    Seeking a profitable business model, er, alpha got you down?

    It’s just noise. Flattering though (after a few drinks).

    My experience of filing claims against crappy enterprises is that it’s a waste of time, money and emotion. YMMV, but they aren’t stealing anything from you if they aren’t around in five years.

  123. johnnyvee commented on Sep 8

    Barry: This is the 125 comment so I don’t think that you will read this but here it goes. I am an attorney and have litigated a wide range of issues–right now I specialize in defending lenders and secondary market investors and prosecute mortgage perpetrated on same. I urge you not to sue because it will bring a whole new level of frustration to and be a distraction that will cause this site to suffer. Once that happens you will have lost. The better thing to do is encourage your readers to let whats-its-name company and officers know that they are a piece of shit everyday. Please take my advice. It is not TBP that is special or unique. It is you, your personality and ideas. Don’t get confused about what is important.

  124. Will commented on Sep 8

    Ignore them until they go out of business. Every time you link to them, people follow it, giving them more money. If you never link to them again, they will get less traffic.

    No reason to continue to help them, just make sure they aren’t stealing your text.

  125. Cavemanus commented on Sep 8

    Barry,

    This likely marks the top for Seeking Alpha.

    As an aggregator, their days were really numbered from day one. If you were to even passivley encourage a boycott with your readership, it could hit them noticeably.

    They offer articles, often of unknown legitamacy. You offer a personality along with your insight. I have read here since the beginning and I am familiar with your “voice.” That subtle, consistent persona is an important draw to your content, and likely not something you considered at first.

    In full disclosure, I had a few articles on Seeking Alpha some time ago. I personally was neutral on the site itself, but I do think you are clearly being wronged (despite the legality). It definitely affects my opinion of their site.

  126. Orson commented on Sep 8

    I think you might be giving yourself and your readers too little credit. Your writing style is distinct enough that someone who regularly reads TBP will quickly recognize that Seeking Alpha’s version is not written by the same person.

  127. JDubb commented on Sep 9

    Barry, I don’t know why you say you don’t have trademark on “The Big Picture”… I would suggest you certainly do!! Sure, you may not have it registered yet, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have an interest in the mark that can be enforced. It is definitely a well known source identifier in the financial blogging community. I would reviewing your trademark law, slapping a TM symbol next to your logo, reading the below linked summary of trademark law from Harvard (particularly #3-7), and sending them a ripe nasty letter using your best legal mumbojumbo.

    http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/metaschool/fisher/domain/tm.htm#3

  128. ct commented on Sep 9

    I checked out their site for the first time.
    They have little to offer.
    Consider taking pity on them.

    1) Pleas keep delivering this fine product.
    2) Find a name you can protect.
    3) Ignore them. Their jealous as hell!

  129. Tom commented on Sep 9

    I recommend you choose a different name for your blog. Look at Huffington Post, or DrudgeReport, they have names that make them more famous yet own their own name. You should get some press out of your name, and not use a generic name for your blog. Great Blog BTW — really good stuff. So give yourself more credit and make it either uniquely named or named after you, IMHO…

  130. Carmen commented on Sep 9

    Google: the-big-picture

    You get 9.49 million results. BUT, the first 2 results are Barry’s site.

    Barry has something going here and those guys deserve a C&D letter pronto.

  131. Hedgie commented on Sep 9

    Fighting them is not worth your time. No one will confuse you with them for more than a minute or two.

    Just allow your loyal readers to go after them.

  132. Francois commented on Sep 9

    Barry,

    I completely understand your frustration. But remember this: We know which Big Picture is the real deal.

    And we certainly make it known to anyone who’s confused.

    Legal action is time-consuming, frustrating, costly and uncertain.

    I am sure you’ve got many other interesting things to do, than rectifying asshatery and assholery via exercise of the Law.

  133. Elvis commented on Sep 9

    This isn’t really “The Big Picture” it is Barry Ritholtz. Call it as it is Barry Ritholtz’s Big Picture.

  134. Pissed commented on Sep 9

    Don’t worry, I sent David an email… He will be changing it tomorrow if he knows what’s good for him. He will also be sending you an apology. I got your back Barry.

    Plus, don’t listen to any of these guys about changing your name. You’ve spent too much damn time working on this thing to give it all up because some a** copied you.

  135. n9999 commented on Sep 9

    Everyone

    boycott the site, we all will send emails.

    Call the tort lawyers and just sue them as the american way.

    later, we the tax payers will bail seeking alpha out because they will have no more traffic due to their unfair business practices (corrupt) and the boycott that we started.

    Wow, haven’t we heard that story before.

    Seeking Alpha is lame anyways. Nothing good comes from there, that is why we read here.

  136. Gerlando commented on Sep 9

    Come on people, Digg this story! Backlash through the blogosphere is the fastest way to resolution on this matter. If people care enough, it will cause outrage and spread like wildfire. Conversely, if it’s not that big of a deal it will fade quickly into obscurity; the controversy, not this blog ;-)

  137. Tom Lindmark commented on Sep 9

    Chill. It’s the Internet man. Everything goes. Sometimes it gets a little wild, wooly and out-of-bounds. Don’t emasculate it. We don’t need a lot of corporate bull shit like cease and desist orders and unfair trade practices. You write posts and your brand isn’t going to be effected one bit.

  138. Conor Neu commented on Sep 9

    Do not change your name and do not give up. As Seth Godin and other marketers will tell you, a brand is extremely important. While your brand is a tough term to defend, you can still continue to produce the best content out there and seek as much legal defense as possible. I like the idea of a Service Mark and I do think you should move to your own domain name that reinforces your brand name.

    Do not attack them by stooping to their level. Continue to approach their CEO and ask for support among your readers by boycotting their site and emailing the CEO as well.

    Lastly, leverage support from industry peers (either the finance or journalism industry). They may not be threatened by you alone, but an email from another one of their core contributors could begin to open their eyes.

    I wish you the best of luck and support you all the way.

  139. josie the berry picker commented on Sep 9

    mr B – i quit reading seeking alpha because it was just fluff!!! your content is much more relavent.dont worry about it. maybe a handful of people make the connection but…..wait i just saw the purple.F them they are using the same color of purple…that starts to fade into ‘your brand’……..but not much you can do about it.

    David Jackson is just trying to keep up…next time you ar eon cnbc get dennis neal to go contribute to seeking alpha..that will kill it!

  140. nothanks commented on Sep 9

    Me thinks you picked a very generic name for your blog, and it’s not surprising that others want to use the same phrase, even when (gasp) used in blogging websites.

    If you really think you’re the only person who has uttered or used the phrase “the big picture”, you’re kidding yourself. Trademarks are for actual infringement of trade practices…

    It would be like me claiming ownership of the word “windows” just because I created an operating system that used windows and I called it Windows. Sounds kinda silly to me…

    Seeking Alpha may or may not have legitimate business, but don’t measure it’s relevance based on using “your” phrase for your blog. If they named their tab “Ritholtz’s Corner”, then you might have a valid gripe, but until then, you are just using a generic phrase, jut like them…

    Call your blog “Barry’s Big Picture” and you got something unique. Otherwise, count me among the ass-hats if you must, but stop thinking that you’re the only one who can think or blog in terms of the big picture.

  141. nothanks commented on Sep 9

    A quick follow-up to my last comment…

    You have so much good content and analysis here that it’s disappointing to see you being petty about the phrase “the big picture”. Be bigger than that — your work stands on its own beyond the single phrase…

    Even if you were to name your blog “2+2=5” you’d garner readers because your content is good, not because the name is great. Don’t try to hide behind the title of your blog, be great for the sake of being great.

  142. anand commented on Sep 9

    How about taking a chill pill?

    He who provides value will survive. He who wastes time in legal battles will lose value while trying to preserve value.

    Move Ahead.

  143. Bruce commented on Sep 9

    My letter to David at SeekingALpha

    “In Australia, you guys would be constantly told to wear a headband. When you asked why, you would be told “To cover up the circumcision scar”.

    Not that I regularly dropped in on your site, but after your attempts to leverage off BR’s good rep, I’ll be happy to tell all and sundry what dickheads you are. As fast as the net works, that ought to give you about 2 weeks of leverage off BR’s good name.

    So long Gen X wankers.

  144. MarkTX commented on Sep 9

    The Big Picture is and always will be your site BR!!!!!

    As for them stealing the title of your “blog”…. I Don’t know if you really have any recourse as a “blog”.

    Microsoft vs. DOS, IBM
    Microsoft vs. Apple

    Amazing how history repeats….

  145. TKL commented on Sep 9

    If this website is a hobby and you don’t care about it as a brand, then maybe it doesn’t matter. If this is your business, it would be normal to consult and attorney. If this is your business and it’s making you a lot of money, then you’re a fool if you don’t consult an attorney.

    Your blog name is quite possibly a fairly strong trademark because it may have acquired what we intellectual property attorneys call “secondary meaning.” What that means is basically that even if it couldn’t have been protected for some reason in the past, it is now famous and strongly associated with your service.

    I won’t analyze it to death or offer any conclusion about your rights. Stop putting the question to your well-meaning but legally illiterate readership. If this is your business, stop fooling around. The foregoing comments contain a tremendous amount of bad and wrong advice. Not worth my time to correct all the irresponsible errors.

    Doing nothing, while knowing about the offending activity, may result in loss of protection.

  146. slognarth commented on Sep 9

    Don’t change your site’s name. In the spirit of Office Space, “…Why should I change my name? He’s the no-talent ass-clown…”

    If it continues to get worse, maybe post a cease and desist template and detailed complaint instructions. You or one of your readers could setup a new “Cause” with Facebook. Those with Facebook accounts could “join the cause” and quickly build a large coalition to mass produce complaints at seeking alpha’s management. Just a thought.

  147. Moise levi commented on Sep 9

    Ignore them, and compete !
    I stopped reading Seeking Alpha when it was clear that the only strengh they have is a few good bloggers …. I bookmarked the good ones, and that was it.

    Compete ; chose quality bloggers as well, and offer them the chnce to team up with you!

  148. Lorenzo commented on Sep 9

    “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
    By any other name would smell as sweet.”

    The Big Picture is an excellent descriptive tag for your blog. It is also a good title for a menu section on Seeking Alpha’s web site. I don’t quite see that the dual use suggests that the web pages are interchangeable or would reduce traffic to your blog.

    Someone who had heard talk of TBP and stumbled into the SeekingAlpha site would recognise fairly rapidly that they were in the wrong place – and vice versa.

  149. Brutus commented on Sep 9

    Just leave it and keep your focus on the market and this excellent blog. I believe that in life you should pick your battles carefully, this is not one I would choose to fight as it would be time consuming, but more so, energy draining and provide little upside should you be victorious.

  150. John Wellman commented on Sep 9

    TBP has always worked for me. In my line of work we use the phrase “The Big Flick” quite often.

    Try this on for size, Ecomnicient.

    Later, JDub

  151. Orifice commented on Sep 9

    Suggestion, leech back, become chief editor for the Seeking Alpha “tab” with the same name. Here in sweden analyst firm Redeye.se gathered a plethora of bloggers under a common umbrella and let them use their real names when posting an article or an analysis. subscribers to redeye service approve.

  152. Simon commented on Sep 9

    I quite like the idea of re-naming the blog Rithholz and Co or something. It would make no difference to me.

    It kind of begs the question as to why be semi-anonymous in the first place. I’m not sure I would have been so interested in a site that was more personality oriented anyway.

    The cool thing about blogs is that it is ALL about content not personalty. Obviously personality comes through but that is way secondary to content.

    After all what do we complain most about in MSM? The overwhelming absence of thoughtful content and the overwhelming substitute of style and personalty.

    We like the players not the cheerleaders. And we especially like being able to have a bit part in the play.

    I do think the writers of good blogs should be rewarded somehow.

    They are undoubtibly an extremely important avenue of free speech and democracy. They in my opinion are having a very positive balancing influence. If not a revolutionary one.

    Yours is one of the most important.

  153. Jos commented on Sep 9

    LITTLE CHANGE. You are not alone with your ‘big picture’. For example Jim Puplava also use “The Big Picture” on his website (financialsense.com) and his radio commentary.

  154. Jay commented on Sep 9

    Change blogname into “FoundAlpha”…

  155. ed commented on Sep 9

    You are well known…use your own name…don’t waste your time ‘being right’ on this issue

  156. bk commented on Sep 9

    BR – I will send a message to the cretins, BUT…

    Kepp your name, it’s you. Seasoned readers will pull it up once and realize it’s not you. Newer sorts might be confused, but you’re on just about every blogroll that matters, so I’d think they’d learn soon enough. Now, if you were not quite as established, that would be different.

    Regardless, ethically it’s just not done. But, look at the sight. Not really original thinking, is it?

  157. Alan commented on Sep 9

    This site is typepad.com and only uses the phrase in question on the pages. This is used in magazines all over the English speaking world – it does no damage to your site that others use the phrase.

  158. MJM commented on Sep 9

    Short the hell out of them eh?… based on emotion? Maybe you should tell your mommy.

  159. MJM commented on Sep 9

    Short the hell out of them eh?… based on emotion? Maybe you should tell your mommy.

  160. JOSH ULRICH commented on Sep 9

    No Longer Seeking Alpha

    I will stop frequenting and reading Seeking Alpha because of this.

  161. R.J. Squirrel commented on Sep 9

    Disclaimer: I haven’t read about 140 of the 167 comments listed so far, because I need to do the laundry this morning.

    Take it as far as your desire for a new hobby requires, then move on.

    More importantly: how about “mediaevil”?

  162. victor commented on Sep 9

    grow up.

  163. farmers almanac commented on Sep 9

    I linked here from Real Clear Markets. They’re not laughing with you, they’re laughing at you. Get a life.

  164. George Tsiolis commented on Sep 9

    Barry, if you are truly hell bent on teaching SA a lesson AND protecting your brand, I would recommend deploying the following Web 2.0 Tactics to fight back, embarrass them and pressure them to change the name:

    1] Write a post outlining what SA has done and why it is wrong. Make it a direct attack that is titled something like “Seeking Alpha Poaches The Big Picture”.

    2] Post it to both DIGG and Yahoo Buzz

    3] Rally everybody here to go vote for the stories. I know you have a “digg this” at the end of your posts but I doubt if many of us DIGG your posts. This one would be different as all of us would actually vote. I am certain your audience would be able to get the story onto the front page.

    4] Ask all bloggers here to cover the story in their blogs (I would). The stories should include anchor text such as “The Big Picture” and “Seeking Alpha” that actually link back here.

    5] Work your media contacts to give you an opportunity to tell your story on TV. Tech Ticker, Bloomberg, etc. I am sure they would find it to be news worthy.

    The combined pressure of DIGG, BUZZ, Blogosphere and Media Coverage should accomplish your goal.

    I know that the mere threat of Web 2.0 attacks has scared my past adversaries straight.

    Regards,
    George

  165. Truth or Talk commented on Sep 9

    Barry – it’s time to rename your blog:

    barryritholtz.com

    – or something to that effect.

  166. BB in Mtl commented on Sep 9

    Why not enlist John Grisham to write a book about this? Seems to have all the suspense of one of his legal masterpieces!

  167. bruce Banister commented on Sep 9

    I emailed David Jackson as Barry suggested. He emailed me back and said he would change the name of the tab but, that it wouldn’t be done immediately. If that is true then I would like Barry to tell us what gives. What ye say Barry?

  168. wpepper commented on Sep 9

    Rename your blog to Barry Ritholtz’s Big Picture then add a tab “Seeking Alpha got Beta”.

  169. dallas commented on Sep 9

    Your ego has once again devoured your gray matter. You chose a common phrase, so did they. Get over it.

  170. Upstream commented on Sep 9

    #2 done
    go option #3 in case it is $$$ worth it.

    Readers will realise what POS is that blog and end up here anyway.

  171. tony commented on Sep 9

    people read seeking alpha?

  172. enver commented on Sep 9

    definitely Clockwork Orange.

  173. jack commented on Sep 9

    You could hire some chinese hacker underground computer mercenaries to launch a huge attack on their servers.

  174. Anatoli commented on Sep 9

    This on is easy, just create a section of your own on this site and title it Alpha Seeking (or something along these lines). Put this right at the top of the page next to “Markets” and the “Economy” and keep it there until your wish is granted.

  175. Teresa commented on Sep 9

    This is blasphemy.

    I think you should stop blogging altogether – immediately – just in case those nasty people try to steal your pearls of wisdom.

  176. Toro commented on Sep 9

    Maybe you should change the name of your site to “Damn, This is an Awesome Financial Website.”

  177. constantnormal commented on Sep 9

    BR — as Seeking Alpha is emailing the BP readers who have complained/ranted/unsubscribed with the (entirely plausible) story that they told you they would change the name, but it would take a week, because they don’t like to make changes to the site layout during the week (also entirely plausible), it seems that we now have two pictures of events. This being the Real World, it is possible that neither side tells the full truth, and one might think that it is possible you have over-reacted, and might owe them (upon their carrying through with the supposed yet-to-be-made change)
    1) a public apology, and
    2) a resumption of posting your content on their site.

    It’s also possible that I am full of crap (happens all the time), and their site will not make these changes, or that they decided to make the changes only after they got a firestorm of complaints — we will never know.

    We’ll be watching.

  178. Marcus commented on Sep 9

    I did like you asked and emailed David.
    I got his reply (very interesting). Why didn’t you tell us the truth??

  179. CPJ commented on Sep 9

    I too received an e-mail back from David. While this was initially what looked like a small riff between the two of you, he has now attempted to cast a shadow of doubt over your intentions and your character. I do hope the truth lies somewhere in the middle, as I have come to respect what you write and the manner in which you carry yourself. I hope that his allegations aren’t correct. As with constantnormal, I guess we’ll just wait and see…

  180. Clinton commented on Sep 9

    As an attorney that registers trademarks when he’s not reading your blog….
    Yes, you –may want to consider–// xshould try tox register your trademark with the USPTO. Letters sent referencing a registered trademark are more effective than those that talk about your feelings. Both valid, one is more effective and can lead to monetary damages.

    I realize that I am in danger of seeing everything as a nail, but in this case, the hammer seems to be the right tool for the job.

    Who used it first is an important consideration.

    I believe I mentioned this in the comments before….

    Clinton

  181. GT commented on Sep 9

    Srsly, you’ve got to get past it – otherwise you risk looking petulant (and in SA were trying to get at you specifically, then you shouldn’t let them know that you care).

    I’ve had the same blog address since 2004 (and prior to that I wrote GT’s Market Rant for another crowd between 2000 and 2003), yet you can find any number of commentators who waffle away calling their output “MarketRant”. it’s just the way it is – and every now and then a reader wil point out that they read something else called MarketRant but it was nowhere near as good as their beloved GT.

    ‘Sides… there’s just no WAY to lay claim to something as generic as “The Big Picture” – which has been a television documentary in England since the 1960s.

    If Seeking Alpha did what they did in order to try and pretend that you had some arrangement with them, then your readers will soon find that’s not true and everyone will go about their business fully informed.

    Cheers,

    GT
    France (but Im Australian, which is why my English is so bad)

  182. Diamond commented on Sep 9

    Barry,

    Have you totally lost the plot?

    The Big Picture is used by Briefing.com, Investor Business Daily and by Roger Nusbaum’s blog. It is obviously a generic phrase that is widely used.

    Seeking Alpha’s post explained that they would be changing the name out of respect for you (even though they did not have to), and yet you still decided to publish a personal email address and incite your readers to nefarious acts. Why?

    ~~~

    BR: None of those players are financial blog aggregators.

  183. thehynie commented on Sep 9

    Seeking Alpha informed you in writing that your site was causing confusion in their customer base. Do not assume they were agreeing with your comments to them. Assume their lawyers directed this letter, and ask your IP attorney whether he considers this a tactic in their legal strategy. Ultimately, they will want exclusive use of “their” content section titles. Given their acitivity as an aggregator, they may soon have more page views in this area than you have. If you don’t aggressively protect your “first use” rights, file for trademark and/or servicemark protection, it would not surprise me that you will be defending a “cease and desist” action from Seeking Alpha. Don’t confuse our legal system with a justice system. Forewarned is forearmed.

  184. Sam commented on Sep 9

    I like your blog Barry. But this is assinine. I suggest you let it go as it is petty and beneath you. However it could be an opportunity, you could use it as a Litmus test for your readership. And infer what you will from there. Afterall, anyone who gets confused by this non-issue probably isn’t intelligent enough to understand the content on either site.

  185. jamie commented on Sep 9

    Well you have to assume if they are this stupid most of the information on their site is probably suspect.

    They’re just doing it to generate more ad revenue

  186. Ryan commented on Sep 9

    They’re pathetic. I visit your site directly 5-10 times a day. Their site gets my attention if linked there from somewhere else, and even then only briefly. Treat them as the JV team that they are… pick on them occasionally, laugh at their mistakes and ignore them otherwise….

  187. Warminghut commented on Sep 9

    You may have a fight fire with fire situation. I think there should be a Seeking Alpha tab on your site where your loyal readers can submit their best spoofs, gags, jokes, and generally the worst of the worst of the financial news (Ben Stein could be a regular target). Could you imagine how “Dave” at SA would like it if you were able to make the words “Seeking Alpha” synonymous with the worst of the worst financial news? Like the Onion of the financial world?

    SA deserves nothing less, IMO! Plus this reaction has just the right touch of class to it, which I find you do, too.

  188. David commented on Sep 9

    Seeking Assholes.com

    Classic!

  189. Donny M commented on Sep 9

    What you should do right now is offer some cash for the domain name thebigpicture.com it was registered back in 1999. You also need to get all variations and mis spellings of your domain name. Your losing more traffic this way than you think. When I first heard of your blog I could not find it because the thebigpicture goes to a blank page. Anyway I would not post this comment as someone may try to buy this domain name before you do and redirect it to a ???? site.

  190. Tom commented on Sep 9

    Put in a call to “Uncle Louie” who will then pay them a visit and make a simple statement:

    “Dis is a nice place to put out a web site from; it’d be a shame if somet’ing was to happen to it . . .”

  191. Teresa commented on Sep 9

    Strange how Barry won’t address Seeking Alpha’s claim that he was notified by email they were making the change… Hello??

    ~~~

    BR: I was away on vacation, when i got back, I got an email telling me what they were doing — IT WAS ALREADY DONE WHEN I SAW THE MAIL.

    Even that email said they were “considering” making the change, I sent an email back voicing my objections.

  192. Greg commented on Sep 9

    Barry: Go break his kneecaps. If this is not your personal style, hire someone to do it for you.

  193. donna commented on Sep 9

    Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. I read you, not them.

  194. BrianG commented on Sep 9

    Barry,

    In my mind, and in the minds of many, “The Big Picture” is synonoymous with Barry Ritholtz. If so, then why not change the name a bit to “The Big Picture, with Barry Ritholtz”?

    Further, you could add “Preferring to not associate with Seeking Alpha in any way, shape or form” as a subtitle.

    That would distance/seperate you from their blog and also get some hits for someone searching for Seeking Alpha.

    I know you are a gentleman, and taking the high road whilst letting people know your feelings seems like right thing to do.

  195. ARTHUR commented on Sep 9

    GREAT, THESE ASSHOLES ARE NOW GOING TO FORCE EVERY BLOGGER TO SPEND $1000S OF DOLLARS GETTING TRADEMARK PROTECTION.

    WHAT CREEPS

  196. Barry Ritholtz commented on Sep 9

    I am not linking to SA anymore, and have stripped any prior link to them. My Google juice will not accrue to them in any form. That goes for comments too.

    And Steve, thanks for posting the same comment 5X.

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