By: JODI B. COHEN
”DAYS WERE SO simple back then. I was little. The routine was easy as pie. Worries never even existed. Kids were ready to partake in new, long-lasting friendships. We played fun games of hopscotch, shared our little secrets, and had a grand old time . . . But now, I can see as I grow older, things are changing . . . People change. Time slips away. The peer pressure. Bad influences . . . “
This poem excerpt is just a sample of what teen-age girls, between the ages of 9 and 18, will find in New Girl Times, a bimonthly newspaper.
But, it’s not the content that caused the New York Times to go after this little-known paper ? it’s trademark infringment.
New Girl Times had been using the trademark Gothic font nameplate ? achieving the look of the New York Times nameplate. The paper also used a slogan similiar to the famous “All the News That’s Fit to Print.”
In the third issue of New Girl Times ? the issue with the new nameplate, Andrea King wrote about the New York Times cease-and-desist letter, writing that Miriam Hipsh, publisher and founder of the New Girl Times, spoke to a lawyer before publication of the first issue, and he felt it would be all right to use.
King wrote that although Hipsh still believes that “Fit to Print” has a whole different meaning than “Fit to Empower”, Hipsh said in the same article that she is flattered by all the attention.
“I feel it is a huge compliment to the New Girl Times’ contributors that a newspaper as big and powerful as the New York Times would worry that we were violating its trademark,” said Hipsh.
She said she is taking it as a compliment, despite the fact it slowed the paper down a bit.
“I was a bit naive. I thought they’d see the beauty of the imitation. . . . I was naive,” she said.
According to counsel from the New York Times legal department, they don’t have a problem with New Girl Times, just the infringement.
“I saw an ad for it in Vogue magazine and we are trademark owners and the law requires that we inform them that they have to be separate and different,” said a counselor from the department.
But perhaps it’s the history of the New Girl Times that makes this story most interesting.
Hipsh is a journalism graduate from what is considered to be one of the best journalism schools in the country, and puts out the paper with her own money ? even though it’s tight.
Hipsh had the idea for the paper two years ago. The first issue came out in 1996. Each issue is entirely written and illustrated by girls ranging in age from 9 to 24 in some cases.
“I started it out of my own pocket,” Hipsh said. “I am applying for grants and wanting to get a sales force of girls together. I’ve been working real hard to keep my head above water.”
However, from the very first issue, it has proven to be a much needed entity.
A news item appeared in Seventeen magazine in July 1995, and within two months, Hipsh heard from 7,000 girls via the paper’s e-mail (nugrltim@ aol.com) who wanted to contribute in some way to the newspaper.
“That is how deep the need is for this kind of newspaper,” she said. “I am still getting calls. . . . I have heard from Russia, Indonesia, Dominican Republic, Canada, England . . . all over the world ? literally.”
Currently, the paper costs $12 for 12 issues. However, all contributors to the newspaper get a free subscription as payment.
She said she will keep the paper going because there is such a need, now that girls are being recognized and understood.
“I think people are also recognizing the crisis girls are in now in the culture we live in,” she said. “I am furiously writing grants so I can keep it going because the need is so enormous. If that doesn’t work, someone will finance it because it’s so worthwhile.”
New Girl Times started out at an eight-page newspaper. Now, there are 12 pages. The paper is printed out of Kansas where Hipsh grew up and is still hand- set typed on a Web press. There is random spot color on the front and back pages, and a layout artist designs the paper on QuarkXPress.
In every issue, there is a computer column, hard-nosed stories on topics such as sweatshops and girls, school newspaper censorship, and other stories with a more-positive spin, such as volunteering, home schooling and the cons of cheating.
“In our third edition, we just added a horoscope column and a letters to the editor section called Pen Pals,” Hipsh said. “We also have classified ads from enterprising girls who have started their own ‘zines.”
The New Girl Times is now back on track with a hip, new nameplate and the slogan, “Onward Girl Nation.”
As for the New York Times, a counsel told E&P that publications usually don’t infringe on the Times because of its notoriety. But, no matter how small the publication, the New York Times has to defend its trademark.
“Like any other trademark owner,” said the Times counsel, “it’s only as strong as you enforce it.”
?( The New Girl Times originally copied its nameplate from the New York Times (top), but when the Times warned the paper that it was infringing on its trademark, the New Girl Times came up with a new nameplate.)[Photo & Caption]