Editor’s Note

What the Ell Now?

Thanks to threatened legal action, we’re losing letters left and right.

By Scott Vogel September 30, 2014 Published in the October 2014 issue of Houstonia Magazine

I think it fair to say that since the launch of Houstonia a mere year and a half ago, no magazine has been met with more enthusiasm, more acclaim, more unbridled tittering than ours. You have subscribed to us beyond expectation, you have sung our praises on social media, you have dressed scantily and showed up on Heights Blvd. with offers to bear our children. There is no way we can repay such compliments, of course, other than to say that we are humbled and pondering a restraining order. 

And yet, dear readers, there are forces allied against us. Why, just the other day, even as my colleagues and I sat pickled at a local bar indulging in one of our favorite pastimes—debating which of the other magazines in this town we love the most—a letter arrived from our friends over at H Texas magazine, in what can only be described as a cruel coincidence. The letter, if you’re wondering, spoke of violations, consumer confusions, and inevitably, ceasing-and-desisting. 

Our offense? The use of the letter H.

“Your use of is a violation of H Texas’ common law trademark rights,” wrote someone named Sir McMillan (Sir McMillan of What he did not specify). Laughable? Perhaps. Ludicrous? Undoubtedly. And yet we had to concede that the Queen’s subject had a point. His magazine had indeed gotten to the letter first, and furthermore had encased it in a rectangular box for safekeeping—.

Did we really have a right to encircle it and call it our own? 

We were not so naïve as to think there wasn’t an element of gamesmanship here on H Texas’s part. Still, their claim was clearly indisputable. For a moment we considered folding our publication, but then a staffer remembered a landmark moment in our infancy, when we were served a cease-and-desist for similar reasons by the Houstonian Hotel, Club, and Spa. It was then that I made the seemingly obscene suggestion that we concede our final N. Thus was our magazine christened Houstonia, a legal challenge averted, and a soon-to-be-beloved periodical launched. 

Given that precedent, there seemed little harm in conceding one further letter from among the eight we had left. Hardly had we redesigned our Oustonia logo, however, when further bad news arrived. 

“Through [our company’s] extensive use and promotion of the mark HOUSTON, [it] now has strong enforceable trademark rights…. HOUSTONIA is likely to cause confusion, mistake or deception among consumers and to dilute the distinctive quality of [our] mark HOUSTON.” The words came from the publishers of Houston Modern Luxury, words that, although they’d been sent to us months and months earlier, had somehow escaped my attention. Our offense? The use of the word Houston. Once more faced with a challenge from a media entity armed with formidable and wise counsel—and the painful prospect of parting with six more letters—we again considered folding. It was only your undying love, it must be admitted, that gave us the strength to go on. 

But go on we shall. My pledge—as the once and future editor of Ia magazine—is to continue giving you the publication you deserve even as I fight to defend our remaining two letters. Let no one underestimate the enormity of the task, however. On the evidence of their pages, it would seem that our competitors have more of a talent for litigation than producing magazines of quality, and we will never be able to compete with them in that regard. 

–Scott Vogel

Filed under
Show Comments