10 PM | 26 May

Some mugs will believe anything – #geekgirl sets the record straight.

It must have been a slow news day when this piece http://www.zdnet.com.au/claws-out-over-geekgirl-trademark-339303290.htm was published.

It was either that or a PR bull-terrier behind an item adorably titled,  “Claws out over geekgirl trademark.”

Lads’ Mag slug aside, it was the content that really ticked me off.  While the piece has been edited many times since it appeared last Friday, it did initially paint me as a copyright thug.

In the hope of beating down this beat up, I elected to do the “no comment” thing.  I’m a feminist, for goddess’ sake.  The last thing I want to  do is add fuel to the flame of a “catfight” story.

But, I’ve had enough of staying quiet. I won’t repeat the threats and insults pelted at the geekgirl door. Let it suffice to say that they have  been loud enough to tempt me out of silence.

Since the piece first appeared, the editors have amended their words.  As the edits took place, I changed from a freedom-eating monster into an unwilling partner in a dispute I didn’t start.

I’m glad the reporters actually got their reporting freak on and bothered to change this PR spin.  In the meantime, though, I’ve become the target of some pretty outsize abuse.

In recent days, I’ve been drenched in the sort of bile you only find on the internet.  For a day there, I became a trending topic. For a week now, I’ve been the object of scorn from a number of prominent online commentators.

Enough. Let me set you straight.

In 1995, IP Australia awarded me trademarks for ‘geekgirl'; this was in large part due to my recognised contributions to cyber-feminism and in mentoring women in IT.

In April 2010, IP Australia rejected the January application by Sydney-based IT consultant Kate Carruthers for the same name.

Kate’s initial reasons for her January application are still unclear to me. What is clear, though, is she has been building a PR narrative in which I star as the Copyright Monster with Fangs.

In recent days, she has claimed in media and podcast interviews that all she really wanted to do was “liberate” the phrase “geek girl” for use in everyday speech.

I might be able to understand Kate’s public and private actions if I was, say Time Warner, or Oprah Winfrey instead of a cyber-feminist nerd running a small business. And, you might be able to understand them if there was clear evidence of me running around issuing cease-and-desists to everyone and their dog.  Which I wasn’t.  Which I wouldn’t.  Try me. Say “Geek Girl” in conversation now.  Anything happen? No.  Marvel as I do not beat down your door and demand an immediate retraction.

Of course, you could be forgiven for thinking that’s how I’ve behaved. Kate did, after all, do an A-Grade PR Number.  If you ever need some good spin, use her people.

What catalysed the hate-storm was Kate’s assertion, expressed in direct quotes to ZDNet, that I had told her directly not to use the Twitter hashtag #geekgirl.

WTF?  She has since retracted this statement and admitted it is not true.

I just don’t “get” this absurd situation. I don’t get why Kate felt it necessary to protect something I was never contesting.  I don’t get why she’s nominated me as this month’s bete-noire. I don’t get why she never thought to pick up a phone or a mouse to talk this through. Most of all, I don’t get the hate expressed by a handful of hatey haters.

Things can move at such high-speed.  It would be great if we could slow down just a bit and wait  for the truth to arrive before hitting ‘send’, ‘post’ or ‘tweet’. It might also be nice to remember that behind those avatars you’re tearing apart to make your important point about IP, mindshare, liberty or whatever, there are people.

To be clear: yes, I want a fair and reasonable control of IP that is demonstrably and legally mine.  While I acknowledge and understand the many arguments against ownership of any kind: seriously. It’s not like Leo Tolstoy has called me to task, here. No. It’s a person who lists Business Process Reengineering, e-Commerce and Strategic Planning among her professional specialties.

I suspect that Kate, with her impressive business résumé, understands trademark law. I suspect that Kate, with her impressive business résumé, has a fairly cosy relationship to capitalism. So, I also suspect that she’s being disingenuous when she says she wants to “liberate” and “share”.  It feels to me that what she may want to do is “take” rather than “share”; all the while building up the “online reputation” successful business people talk about in Digital Marketing workshops.

I am proud of the little virtual place I have built. I am proud to bursting of the women I have mentored.  I am proud of never having gone  to business school or writing the words “Business Process Reengineering” on my résumé.

I am also proud to launch the new line of my merchandise, starting with:  “Some mugs will believe anything” :) Buy now

*hugs* geekgirl