That headline is a song title, right?  I just want to make sure everyone knows I’m referring to a formerly popular Lionel Ritchie ditty here. 

And if you go to a party in Bolivia or Barcelona, it would be OK to call it a “fiesta.”  Nobody could stop you from saying “Vamos a la fiesta.”

I’ve got fiestas on the mind for a very specific reason which I’ll get to a minute.  First, some background. 

Chris and I have loved Fiesta Ware (TM), the colorful dinnerware that dates to the earlier part of the 20th century, for many moons.  In fact, we asked for Fiesta Ware (TM) for our wedding, and were delighted to receive a number of beautiful plates, salt and pepper shakers, bowls and cups  from obliging friends and relatives.  We loved the oranges, cobalt blues, yellows and greens – both light and dark!  We loved the way they stacked, endured, and cheered up the table.

After many years of marriage and several sets of new dishes mixed in with the old, we noticed something.  While the new stuff got cracked, chipped, and ruined rather quickly, the Fiesta Ware (TM) barely showed any damage.  Our loyalty to and love for these amazing dishes increased, and we bought more.

Cut to the current day.  I recently listed a tea towel online which depicted a newly married couple, still dressed in wedding finery, having a little spat.  As you can see in the photo above, the scene of the battle is the kitchen.  Cookware and dinnerware is involved.   In my description, I said – I thought quite whimsically, and certainly with no malice aforethought – “The dishes look like Fiesta Ware.” 

Here’s the friendly note I received from a law firm in Pittsburgh as a result of my artistic license in describing a scene on a vintage tea towel.

Our client, The Homer Laughlin China Company, has long been using the mark “FIESTA” in connection with the sale of dinnerware, among many other products, and has established an excellent reputation in connection with that mark. The mark “FIESTA” constitutes a valuable and famous trademark owned by our client; it is the subject of federal Registrations Nos. 2,458,681; 1,766,472; and 1,725,751.As you know, you are using “FIESTA,” as well as variations of “FIESTA,” solely as a “tag” to drive traffic to your Etsy Web site. Consequently, you are intentionally using Homer Laughlin’s “FIESTA” mark to purposely confuse the public. The use of the FIESTA trademark (and forms of the trademark) as an Etsy tag trades on the good will and reputation that has been established by Homer Laughlin. Your use of “FIESTA, and “FIESTAWARE” or “FIESTA WARE” in this manner constitutes, among other things, trademark infringement and dilution, and is damaging to our client and the public.By this email, we demand, on behalf of Homer Laughlin, that you immediately remove the FIESTA, FIESTAWARE and FIESTA WARE tags from your listings. Should you decide not to comply with this demand, we will report your listing to the Etsy Legal Department as trademark infringement, and take such other legal action as is warranted.Should you need to correspond with us directly, you may email our firm at will review your listing in 48 hours for compliance.

“It is “damaging” to our client.”  Last time I checked, having lots of people on the internet reference your client’s product, without any work on your part, is called “free publicity.”  People pay millions of dollars to try to figure out how to get exactly this kind of marketing bonanza.  

Clients beg their PR firms to get them free mentions on the internet.  All of my references to Fiesta Ware (TM), or of a linen having “fiesta hues,” were uttered with the very best of intentions towards – indeed, even reverence for – the “brand.”  

Had I been flogging cheap pottery made last month in China and misleading the public by calling it Fiesta, now THAT would have been damaging.  But I was describing tea towels, which either depicted colorful dishes, or would have coordinated beautifully with said dishes – and that I would consider useful information to a collector of Fiesta Ware (TM).

However, my opinion did not matter, and 8 of my items were unceremoniously pulled down.  Before my 48 hours were up.  Despite giving me two days, the law firm went running to the website administrators 2 hours after initially contacting me.  What’s up with THAT?  Talk about not keeping your word.

Muchas gracias, Homer Laughlin!  I won’t be inviting you or your lawyers to any Spanish-themed fiestas at my house, you can depend on that. 

Mi casa no es su casa. 

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