Image: Pierre Bamin
Wow. A few weeks back, I asked for help to save my website More Than Two. I’m now over three-quarters of the way to the crowdfunding goal for my legal expenses to help save the site. Once again, thank you all so much. I am incredibly grateful for your generosity.
I would like to share a little bit more about what’s happening. First, a little bit of context. (Don’t worry, I’ll be brief.)
I started writing about polyamory on the web in 1997, when my first writings about non-monogamy went online on xeromag.com. These pages quickly became by far the most popular part of xeromag.com. Before long, they were the most popular polyamory content on the internet in terms of monthly visitors.
In 2006, I registered the domain morethantwo.com. At first, this URL simply displayed the poly content hosted on xeromag.com.
I also started talking about writing a book called More Than Two in 2006. A poly activist who was heavily involved in the early poly community offered to underwrite the costs of writing the book. By late 2006 I’d written sample chapters and a content outline and started shopping the idea of the book around to publishers. Throughout 2007 and 2008, with the continued financial support of my patron, I refined the content outline and sample chapters of More Than Two, and kept looking for a publisher who might be interested. (I eventually accumulated about fifty rejection slips, many of which said some variation on “we don’t think a how-to book on polyamory will sell, but if you ever write a memoir we’d be interested.”)
In 2011, I spun off the polyamory content from Xeromag as its own site. I separated the poly content on xeromag onto morethantwo.com, and also published the outline of the book More Than Two on this domain name.
In 2012, I met my former partner. In 2013, she brought up my book project and suggested a collaboration. We co-founded a publishing company called Thorntree Press (we chose that name because we had our first date on Hawthorne Street in Portland), and in 2014, we published More Than Two.
In 2018, I left Vancouver and that relationship. We began trying to disentangle our financial affairs, since we still jointly owned Thorntree Press. My former partner wanted me to give her my shares of the company. I declined. This led to a long legal dispute which is still ongoing.
What’s happening now?
Three things, one of which is common knowledge and two of which aren’t.
- In November 2021, we had a mediation in front of Judge Karsten Rasmussen. The details of that mediation are covered by a confidentiality agreement, but at the end of it, the judge, my attorney, and her attorney at the time believed we had arrived at a meeting of the minds.
Following the mediation, her attorney attempted to add a new term to the settlement which would have me turn over possession of the domain morethantwo.com to her.
I declined, as this wasn’t discussed at the mediation. I’ve poured countless thousands of hours of work into building the site (and in 2018 it was recognized by archivists at the Library of Congress as a site of cultural and historical significance).
Since then, she has replaced her attorney. She does not consider the mediation to have been binding.
- In January of 2022, my former partner filed for a registered trademark on the phrase “More Than Two.” My lawyer, who specializes in intellectual property, informs me that if she establishes ownership of this trademark, she may be able to seize the domain name morethantwo.com under WIPO action.
You can see the trademark application here.
My lawyer is confident that we can oppose her claim to the trademark, since I can show use of it going back to 2006, but also warns me that opposing a trademark is a very expensive and time-consuming undertaking. I have already paid him the initial sum of money to oppose the trademark filing, and provided him with the materials necessary to draft an opposition filing.
- On March 17, 2022, she filed a lawsuit in Multnomah County Court to petition that the courts declare the November settlement void.
These three things together threaten the continued existence of the More Than Two site. She has already indicated she wishes to have the domain turned over to her, and she is attempting to claim a trademark that would give her the benefit of sixteen years of work I’ve done.
Thanks to your generosity, I have been able to provide my lawyer with the litigation retainer he needs to oppose her trademark application and to represent me in court.
However, this is not the end of the road! I expect this matter to continue to be expensive. I have already taken on considerable debt in this matter.
Over the last sixteen years, I’ve poured my heart and soul into this site. I could simply turn it over to her and allow her to take the trademark, but I think it’s wrong to surrender all my hard work for someone else to take advantage of.
Again, thank you all for your incredible support. I can’t tell you how much it means to me.
For those of you who wish to follow what’s going on, I have created a timeline here, which I will keep updating as the legal situation unfolds.