Patheos Pagan Caves to Cereal Company

Recently, the management of the popular Pagan blogging platform, Patheos Pagan, bowed to corporate pressure again.

… and in other non-news, Donald Trump is still President of the United States.

Patheos Pagan’s manager, Jason Mankey, was recently notified of a complaint by a cereal manufacturer about the name of one of the blogs on the Patheos Pagan channel, “Nature’s Path”.  Nature’s Path is the official blog for the Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans (CUUPS).

The cereal company, Nature’s Path Foods, owns the trademark for “Nature’s Path”.  The company wanted Patheos Pagan and CUUPS to stop using the name for their blog.

Now, a little primer on trademark law:  In the U.S., you can trademark just about anything, even a common word like “Apple” or “Windows”. But just because you own the trademark, doesn’t mean you have a monopoly on it’s use. For example, McDonald’s has trademarked the phrase “I’m loving it”, but only in connection with restaurant services.  A company in another industry could use the same phrase without infringing on McDonald’s trademark.

So the fact that Nature’s Path Foods owns the trademark on the phrase “Nature’s Path” should have no bearing on whether a Pagan blog uses the name. (Nature’s Path Foods does have a blog, but of course, it’s about food, not about Pagan religion.)  In spite of that, both the management of Patheos Pagan (i.e., Jason Mankey) and the management of the CUUPS blog (David Pollard) chose to bow to the mildest form of corporate pressure, a cease and desist letter.

I would have hoped Pagan and Unitarian leaders would have more backbone, but it’s really not surprising, considering that Mankey is now a willing slave to his new corporate masters at Beliefnet and Pollard is one of Mankey’s chief apologistsThe Wild Hunt interviewed Mankey:

“They have been very polite,” said Mankey in an interview. He said that they received the letter asking them to change the blog’s name in January, and that the company gave them “a lot of time to make changes.”

As usual, Mankey seems more concerned about whether people are nice to him than whether other people get trampled by big corporations.

The weakness of Jason Mankey’s resolve has important consequences.  What’s going to happen next time some unrelated company sends him a “polite” letter?  For example, the name “Agora” has been trademarked 50 times by different companies, including a financial advisor,  a company that makes sports equipment, and a pesticide company.  Agora, which refers to the central public space in ancient Greek city-states, is also a name of another blog at Patheos.  What will happen if Mankey gets a letter from a pesticide manufacturer politely asking him to change the name of the Agora blog?  Undoubtedly, he will cave again.

Next thing you know, Patheos Pagan will stop using the name of the Greek goddess Nike for fear of offending the shoe company Nike.

The new name of the CUUPS blog is the cacophonic “Nature’s Sacred Path”.


8 thoughts on “Patheos Pagan Caves to Cereal Company

Add yours

  1. Just another bit of proof that Pathos will not, does not protect the interests of the bloggers on that platform. CUUPS’ could have easily countered and won. Wish they had!

  2. This post makes me uncomfortable.

    What I would have done if I were Patheos Pagan would be to seek advice from a lawyer, discovered that, as you outline above, Nature’s Path cereal are massively overstepping the line, and told them where to get off. And as you point out, it could set a precedent for similar claims.

    As a lawyer yourself, you could have pointed all that out without resorting to personal attacks on Jason and David.

    Whatever happened to “when they go low, we go high”?

  3. Is that really a battle worth fighting though? I get not caving to corporate pressure, but you’ve got to choose your battles. If Nike, as you suggest, ever did decide to tell Pagans to stop using the names of their deities, then that would be a significantly different discussion. As it is, I don’t see this change as worth getting worked up over.

    And, I just have to say, why use the word “bitch”? Come on man, I’ve been reading your work for years and you’re better than that. If nothing else, it’s a gendered slur rooted in patriarchal misogyny (yes, even when you’re using it to refer to another man). I’m with Yewtree above on the lack of need for personal attacks.

    1. Yeah, I was uncomfortable with the B-word too. I’ve changed it.

      As far a picking your battles, here’s my issue: Why throw in the towel before you know if the other side is even willing to battle?

      1. I appreciate you changing it, thanks.

        And I get your point, I do. But at the same time, I don’t see a pretty bland phrase like “Nature’s Path” worth fighting over. It just doesn’t seem like a big deal but YMMV.

  4. Name changes because something already is using it happens all the time. Big deal? only if you make it so. The new names okay too and now no one will surf in accidentally. Life is hard. dont be a dick if you dont have to be one?

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