Friday, 11 March 2011

what's in a name? a lesson in blogging identity

I think I have only ever used this blog to rant once or twice. But now I need to share a story that is relevant to all bloggers of all genres.

I wrote this piece about a month ago and then I sat on it, trying to decide whether I would or should post it. Clearly, I have decided it's something important enough for me to share.

So, what’s in a blog name?
An awful lot.

Especially when other people benefit from the brand profile you have built, innocently or not.

I started my blog back in 2006. Since then I have built up a regular following of kind, wonderful readers (many who lurk without commenting, but my stats show me you’re there).

Through my blog I have found friends from all over the world.

When I attend events or eat at restaurants I am ecstatic to find readers hidden among strangers and foodies. It’s a source of pleasure and pride for me to learn I have influenced a chef, inspired someone to try something new or helped someone cook a winning meal.

I’m not claiming to be one of the top blogs in Australia, nor one of the most famous, but I have certainly invested a lot of time and effort into building my “brand” which is synonymous with my blog name, Morsels & Musings.

My achievements over the past 6 years are now resulting in great opportunities and paid writing gigs on a subject I’m truly passionate about: gastronomy.

It’s a dream come true and Morsels &Musings has led me here.

And now I feel distressed that someone might possibly steal this identity away from me, even if it’s unintentional.

In the last 6 months I have been dismayed to discover two Australian food blogs with names that people have easily confused with mine.

In June 2010, Musings and Morsels arrived on the scene. They are an Australian-based duo covering both food and film.

Then in September 2010, Morsels & Musings (YES! my exact blog name) was started up by another Sydneysider to blog about food.

Same name.
Same ampersand.
Same blogging platform.
Same city.
Blogging about food too.

At first I felt shocked, and then angry.

Then I questioned whether I had a right to be angry.
And I decided, I did.

When I started my own blog, I googled the name I wanted to use to check whether anyone else out there had anything remotely similar. No one did, at the time.

Did either of these people do that?
Surely one of them has done that since?

If they did/have they would have found my blog!

Surely then they would have questioned whether they should use the same/very similar name as an existing, well-established Australian food blog? Especially if they were going to create their own Australian food blog!

Didn’t they care that they’d be competing? (SEOs?)
Possibly plagiarising? (originality?)
Perhaps offending?

If they were writing about another topic then maybe I could have shrugged it off, but they are both food blogs! In Australia!

It’s sickening to have people use my blog’s identity, something I have poured my heart and soul into over the years.

I’ve had content ripped off before, and photos stolen without crediting, but while that’s unfair and annoying it’s not the same as someone using my blog’s identity. That’s a much deeper breach.

For instance, Musings and Morsels is on its way to being a good food blog and has become quite active. There are some lovely photos and interesting recipes. I would have liked this blog if they hadn’t used my name.

Already I have received emails and messages from fellow bloggers and PR agencies confused as to which blog is my blog. They are looking for me and finding them. They are getting comments/messages from them and thinking it’s me.

What if the authors of the other two blogs are offered opportunities based on the brand and goodwill I have generated? What if they write or do something that others somehow negatively attribute to me?

I have to think the best of people and assume that both blogs’ authors meant no harm and just blundered along unwittingly, or didn’t think things through.

But that doesn’t change the fact that now there are three Aussie food blogs out there, all bearing similar names and that I, as the most established and recognised blog, certainly have the most to lose.

This problem is certainly poignant to every blogger but, short of taking legal action, there’s not much I can do about this situation.

It’s upsetting and disappointing, and even if it’s not illegal (which it isn’t) it breaches all blog etiquettes and basic common decency.

So what would be the best outcome now?

Well frankly the only real resolution is for the two newcomers to pick some new names that are original and unique to them. Not only would it reduce confusion around the profile that I’ve built for the past 6yrs but it would allow these blogs to grow and find their own special place in the sun.

But in the end, that’s up to them.

Thanks for taking the time to hear me out on how this experience has made me feel.

Your continued support to Morsels & Musings will always be appreciated.


  1. I for one, will always return to here, because I know the content is great. FYI, If the same happened to me, I'm sure I'd feel exactly the same way.

  2. Puts me on edge Anna, when I read your post. It's heartbreaking and seems ever so unfair. I have a similar case with a blogger who uses my blog name 'Passionate About Baking', yet her address is
    It bothers me sometimes, but I gave up a long time ago. Sorry you have to go through the trauma.

  3. it's a tricky situation and I can see why you'd be upset... commisserations, but sadly there's not much that can be done.

    i know it's easy for me to say, but if i was in the same situation it would upset me too.

    have you tried contacting them?

  4. I haven't even thought about the possibility of something like this happening to me. How distressing. Terrible. Have you contacted the other "morsel and musings" website owners?

  5. Hi Anna
    Just wanted to say that I was horrified when I read about not one, but two logs stealing your name! You must be livid! It's obvious you have done an incredible amount of hard work to get your blog to the standard it and to have great sucess. This is nothing short of totally unfair!
    I know it doesn't make you feel any better. Have you contacted the blog owners as others have suggested? I know it would be a diffcult conversation to have, but all the same, it's really important.
    I hope something can be worked out for you.
    Take care and keep writing!

  6. rest assured you'll always be the original Morsels and Musings. i guess it's hard to trademark what you've started unless you register your business name etc. quite possibly there might be 10 Morsels and Musings in the future. Perhaps even 10 Simon Food Favourites although the likihood of another simon doing food blogging and wanting to call it the same thing might be less but it's still a possibility. i think you need to concentrate on what you do best and that's writing great posts. even if there were a hundred of you i'm sure you'll stand out from the crowd :-) if you're worried about losing the name you've started then register it as a business perhaps and create a distinctive logo that can be trademarked. it won't stop copying but it will help if there's legal action required perhaps. i use my face as my brand so unless someone looks exactly like me and names there's blog the same i'm hoping i'll be safe for a little while :-)

  7. Well said! An issue that would resonate with anyone who doesn't fancy having their identity stolen. Whilst the quality of your work will stand you in good steed, I hope that this has just been an honest mistake by those other bloggers who will hopefully now for their own sake, cut their losses and change their names. With untold permutations of different possible blog names, surely we don't need 3 Morsels and Musings in Sydney alone!

  8. Anna, I was so disheartened to read this. I don't know if the same applies in Australia, but in the US I believe you can add TM to your blog name indicating trademark, and if you've registered it, you may add R. I wish you well.

  9. You definitely have the right to be angry! I'm just dumbfounded at their audacity/ignorance. It's a thought provoking post Anna and I feel awful for you. I definitely can't imagine what it'd feel like to be in your situation but I don't think I would've handled it as gracefully as you have.

    It's definitely bad etiquette what they've done and even if it was unintentional, it's bad bad blogging practice. I hope they both wake up to themselves, do what's right and fix the situation. Hope it works out for you in the end xx

  10. You're got every reason to be absolutely livid about this. Trading on someones name, whether it's a site name or a cook/chef is just bad form all round. If the fakes have any shred of decency they will rename their sites.

  11. thanks for all your messages of support and comments. i REALLY appreciate it.

    i am hoping they just made a dumb mistake ...

  12. Oh Anna, this is just horrible news. And I agree with Haalo that if they had any decency they would have 1) checked before they took the name and 2) renamed their venture once they discovered that someone else had it.

    I don't know anything about Australian law (obviously) but in America you can file a "Trademark" to protect a business name. I am in the process of doing that now for Kalyn's Kitchen (and should have done it long ago, was counting on the uniqueness of my first name to protect me but recently decided not to take the risk.) Unfurtunately that doesn't help if someone already has the name when get the trademark. You might want to check with an attorney to see if there is anything you can do though.

    Regardless, YOUR blog is the only Morsels & Musings for me!

  13. I empathize with you as well. My business, Flavors of the Sun, has been in my name since 1990--my business, my blog (later date). Now someone in Utah is using the name for her blog as well. I understand what you are feeling. BTW--I am a loyal follower, who never comments, so perhaps it is time to tell you what a great job you do. Terrific blog.

  14. So annoying. I think it's definitely worth emailing the blog owners (perhaps with a link to this post?) to give them the chance to do the right thing, on the off-chance that they genuinely weren't aware of your blog.

  15. Hi Anna! Must be a tricky situation! Maybe u could all benefit from being related, put your name Anna's Morsels & Musing and the other could do the same and then link together as a "Sydney family" with links between each others. Stay possitive! Try to turn a negative into a possitive situation! Cheers

  16. Hi Anna, I just wanted to chime in to say that you are in every right to be upset/angry about this situation. Unfortunately a thing one can't control is another person's laziness and ignorance.

    I've been one of those long time readers who has dipped in and out of reading food blogs(after having stopped blogging about food back in 2006/7) and yours is one of my favourite local food blogs. I enjoy your writing style, original content (the topics you write about don't spring up on a myriad of other blogs after an event so I pay attention!) and your interest in a range of cuisines. Keep doing what you're doing - you have a lot of support.

  17. Anna, very difficult. I'd never thought of something like this happening before. Hope they do the right thing.

  18. How terribly unoriginal and RUDE to use the same or similar name. I hope your fans realise the difference, given the effort you've put into your 'brand'. This post has certainly alerted everyone to the issue.

  19. thanks again for all your comments and encouragement. you have no idea how much better it makes me feel.

    i have registered Morsels & Musings as my business name and i do own all the domains too.

  20. I am horrified..Until now, did not realise…perhaps would never have realised except for this article…you are absolutely within your rights to be mad as hell…I am delighted you have taken matters into your own hands and registered it! You will always be the original and you know what they say about originals right? The best!

  21. I've only just started reading your blog and this post specifically caught my eye. I know you were thinking about whether to post it or not, but I'm glad you did. It's a serious lesson for all start up businesses, bloggers or otherwise. It seems you have a strong following that will outlast any other competitors on the market, and that you have a brand that's already doing great things. You just need to keep going with it. Good luck!

  22. Hi Anna,
    It was a pure coincident that we came up with a similar name. We started our blog before we even realised there was another one out there with a similar name. Was pretty sad for us too because we thought we came up with a brilliant original name.

    But I wanted to point out our content & writing style is totally different. We're not riding on your fame or trying to compete or copy. Simply a fellow blogger sharing their passion and enjoyments in life.

    Pretty sad really when we were able to achieve something like this

    only to have it shot down by a nasty comment.

  23. Lynn,
    Congratulations on the SBS Food article. It's a great achievement.
    I agree it's sad that the comments on your article have all been about the name issue rather than your blog. I had absolutely nothing to do with this and didn’t even know about it until you posted your comment on my blog.
    I believe you when you say the name choice was an innocent accident but you also have to understand that your decision to use a name so close to my blog does impact on my brand recognition.
    As a freelance food writer, with a registered business name of Morsels & Musings, this is a very distressing situation for me.
    I’m sure you can recognise that.


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