Fighting for freerecyling

Time to wake up

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This blog had largely gone to sleep.  I had written so much about The Freecycle Network (TFN) that at the time perhaps I had written as much as could be written.  Satiated I moved on to pastures new.  In part that was proving that I could create and run my own freecycling group.  Well, almost a year on I have proved that in volumes.  My own group has grown organically without recourse to any help from TFN.

Well my slumbers must now be broken.  Their trademark abuse team has decided in its infinite wisdom to go after my group.  Whether they succeed or not in whatever goals their distorted brains have dreamt up, they shall not find my group wanting to allow them to issue threats and harrassment without my doing something about it.

So hello, once again.  I shall now reawaken this blog, bringing events up to date and letting you know how this threat proceeds.  The starting point then is to understand the threat.  This comes in to my inbox as a quasi-polite email which in content is exactly the same pro-forma bullshit aimed at many other Yahoo Groups and group owners who just want to help society freecycle better, viz:

“Dear Owner of the Yahoo group  Kidlington-Freecycling-Group,
I’m writing on behalf of The Freecycle Network(TM) to notify you that your group is not an official Freecycle group and therefore does not have permission to use the trademarked Freecycle name or logo or the copyrighted materials provided in the Start-a-Group process or the web site, or any confusingly similar derivations thereof.

The list of all local groups is available on The Freecycle Network’s web site at

We have invested considerable time and resources in insuring that our organization is associated with only appropriately moderated, legal, and totally free services that have a common source of origin from The Freecycle Network.  This is why we only allow one group per community — to avoid any confusion among the public as to with whom they are dealing
when the Freecycle name is used. Accordingly, please consider this your official notice to stop using the trademark-protected Freecycle name and logo, as well as any and all copyrighted texts, graphics, rules, and guidelines, in any part of the group including the title, or its URL
(Yahoo group name).

Please understand that our intent is not to stop your or your group from recycling or exchanging unwanted items with fellow users. Should you wish to remain independent of our organization, you are; of course, free to operate your own gifting-based site under a name that is not confusingly similar to Freecycle.

TFN Trademark Agent, Tucson
TM Co-Coordinator”

What follows now is my response to Yahoo using their Groups abuse form:

“I am reporting The Freecycle Network, as represented by

Please find enclosed their harassment and my response to the trademark team at The Freecycle Network who have insinuated that my group used their trademarked or copyrighted materials.  My reply is that my group uses no such materials.

Additionally the closest that could be said is that my group uses the word “freecycling”, however it should be noted that official TFN materials specifically exclude use of such a word.  They have never, to my knowledge claimed any ownership of the word freecycling and thereby I consider it to be available for non-TFN use.  Also note that any claims by TFN to any trademarks are subject to considerable controversy and there exist various judgements against TFN on exactly this matter, including the proceedings between TFN and Oey for example, known as a SLAPP suit at the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.  (See for more info on this.)

Also may I further note that TFN have known, officially of my group’s existence under its original and current names since its inception on 1st, November 2007 which is almost a year ago.  If they wished to complain then they have had ample opportunity.

In the additional information please find a copy of the entire email dialogue between TFN and my group thus far.

Dear readers, I will keep you updated as to how this proceeds.

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October 29, 2008 - Posted by | freecycle


  1. Good for you Andy! Will really be looking forward to
    reading the updates!!

    Comment by Cheena | October 30, 2008 | Reply

  2. Yahoo have responded. “They have acted” which I presume TFN has been told off in no uncertain terms. So up yours Deron Beal! I commend any group to tell Deron that harassment is simply not acceptable way for any company to do business, even his vision of Corporate America.

    Comment by andyswarbs | October 31, 2008 | Reply

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