So. I was checking my comics this morning (Or the important ones right now, which are Narbonic, Schlock, QC & S*P) when I saw on the latter an advert for FreeMesa.org, an organisation devoted to small groups of people in various local areas who give things they don’t want to each other instead of chucking them out.

Golly, I thought, first tea still unfinished, that sounds familiar. Isn’t that what Freecycle do?

You may not be familiar with Freecycle, but that is, basically, what they do. Or, actually, that is What Freecycle Is. A Freecycle List is a list on Yahoo Groups where people give things to each other. Upon a little research I discovered that Freecycle itself is a trademark of a non-profit organisation with corporate sponsorship.

And by “Research”, I mean “I read their web site”. This is the modern meaning of the word, as far as I can tell.

So The Freecycle Network is an organisation which is basically a directory of mailing lists hosted on someone else’s technology with volunteers running them about people giving things away for free. What could anyone possibly object to enough so go so far as to set up a rival? All they can do is have the name.

Oh. Right.

Freecycle, who have seen what is happening with the verb to google (look at the link very carefully for bonus irony points) have decided to Take Action, and said

In legalese, the use of the term ‘Freecycle’ denotes a gifting service which is officially approved by the nonprofit organization ‘The Freecycle Network,’ and one that the public can expect to adhere to certain standards. The Freecycle Network must approve any e-mail list or web site that uses the term ‘Freecycle’ in its name and provides any sort of exchange service. (A relevant point for us to note internally is that we have to demonstrate a “concerted” effort.

Cite, plus bonus ‘How you should talk bout FC’ stuff

Grist have a good story on the Freecycle group turning into arseholes. Note that up until recently the Freecycle home page talked about freecycling.

I’m torn on this. On the one side, I can see the group wants to protect its trademark. On the other, it’s basically saying “That thing about the process being ‘freecycling’? Yeah, we’ll sue you for that now”. Also, whereas Google is a huge corporate entity now, I’m not entirely sure why Freecycle – a movement devoted to giving things away for free and using other people’s (freely given) resources to do so – is becoming one.