Orange County Trademark Attorney® Blog

Grub Street Sues Book Review Service For Poaching Name Trademark

October 8, 2012

books.jpgOrange County - The Boston creative writing center Grub Street Inc. hit the book review mill Grub Street Reads with trademark infringement and dilution allegations on Thursday, saying the paid review service is riding on its coattails and stealing its goodwill and reputation for prestigious book awards.

Grub Street, which bills itself as the second-largest creative writing center in the U.S., is operated by established professionals in the literary world, including literary agents, authors and writing teachers. Its literary advisors include numerous bestselling authors such as Anita Shreve. Andre Dubus III, Tom Perrotta and Susan Orlean.

Since 2007 Grub Street has awarded an annual National Book Prize to recognize the best authors in the fields of fiction, nonfiction and poetry. The Grub Street National Book Prize is perceived in the marketplace as a prestigious award that is recognized as Grub Street's endorsement of high-quality literary works, according to Grub Street's complaint in Massachusetts federal court.

The writing center says it recently learned about the Escondido, Calif.-based Grub Street Reads, which operates a website using a name virtually identical to Grub Street's trademark to promote and solicit business for a paid book review service.
For a fee, Grub Street Reads will review and endorse a book as "Grub Street Reads Endorsed," in order to allow the paying author to tout its endorsement in marketing the book, according to Grub Street.

"Given Grub Street's renown in the literary and writing community, there is little doubt that Grub Street Reads was aware of Grub Street's prior use of and rights in the Grub Street mark at the time that it chose to adopt a confusingly similar mark," the complaint says. "Grub Street Reads' adoption of a confusingly similar mark was intentional and designed to free-ride on Grub Street's established goodwill."

The difference between Grub Street Reads' use of the trademark and Grub Street's original use is the "unfettered willingness" with which Grub Street Reads awards its endorsements, according to the complaint. Grub Street Reads claims that it does not endorse everyone, but suggests that almost half of the paid submissions it receives are endorsed, it says.

The name Grub Street originally refers to an area in London famous up until the 19th century for being a home to hack writers, low-end publishers and cheap booksellers existing on the margins of respectable literary society.