One week ago, a longtime elected official named Carol Becker, who I have at times been critical of, filed multiple applications with both the state and federal government in an attempt to secure rights to the name "Wedge Live." I believe this was an attempt to shut down my platform and steal the identity by which the community has come to know me. Lacking a clear understanding of trademark law, I was initially afraid I'd had my identity stolen out from under me.
If you're wondering -- just as I initially wondered -- whether any of this is legal, here's what a law professor said about Becker's actions in the Star Tribune: "That’s not how this works. That’s not how any of this works. You don’t get to steal someone’s brand out from under them by filing an application for registration — especially one that doesn’t have any use for it yet." While she has temporarily withdrawn her applications, Becker has vowed to do this all over again in six months (and has started comparing me to Nazis on a local internet forum).
Becker has put forward competing explanations for why she's doing this, sometimes saying that acquiring the name would be a good business opportunity: “I think they’re worth money and I think I could make some money off of them." At other times she's said she wants to use it as leverage to force me to change how I operate Wedge LIVE!: “I don’t know any other way to get through to [Edwards]." Becker has also used language indicating that she is just one person among a larger group seeking to take my name: "Becker repeatedly used the word 'we' while describing her efforts to file the business and trademark registrations."
I believe this, or something similar, is likely to happen again. If it's not Carol Becker, it will be someone with similar aims. While I will continue to make jokes about this ridiculous situation, I'm also taking my position very seriously. I will do everything in my power to defend myself. I will not leave myself vulnerable to a person, or group of people, with the money and motivation to engage in an unlawful effort to shut down the platform I've spent more than four years building. I'm starting this fund because people have asked me for a way to help defend/support Wedge LIVE! during this time. I don't entirely know what to expect from the legal process ahead, but I want to be prepared for it. To everyone who has asked how they can help: Thank you.
Funds raised may be used to cover expenses, fees, and other costs associated with this process. After a resolution of the legal process, any excess funds left over would be used to continue supporting the work I do at Wedge LIVE!. In addition to covering the 2018 election and the continuing saga of the Minneapolis 2040 Comprehensive Plan, I would be able to make a greater commitment to covering the fast-approaching St. Paul City Council election in 2019.
I am grateful for the public support I've received over the last week; and I'm especially grateful for every Wedge LIVE! subscriber on Patreon. You make it possible for me to do what I do.
Local news coverage of this situation:
Star Tribune, Letters to the Editor