The importance of research: who owns the Women’s Room?

The Internet is a truly fabulous thing which has opened a world of possibilities, conversations and online opportunities for everyone, from big brands, the lone voice shouting about a cause, or someone hand making candles in their kitchen. Democratising and liberating, it’s possible to become an overnight success with nothing more than a great idea and a laptop.

While open source software encourages a DIY attitude it also creates questions around originality, authenticity and ownership. The few rules there are, are vague, making self regulation and transparency a must in order to be successful.

This is particularly key in any kind of start up or campaign. In order to make sure your brand/product/network/idea is going to work, it’s essential to do your research. The last thing anyone wants is to spend lots of time on something only to find out someone else is already out there doing it and these days it’s easy to find this out pretty quickly, using everyone’s most knowledgeable best friend, Google.

We pride ourselves on doing our research and when it came to choosing our name we thought long and hard about what we should be called (you can read how we came up with it here) Once we had decided, we researched the name and found the only references to The Women’s Room online, were to the book by Marilyn French, which had inspired our choice  – perfect – we bought as many domain names as we could afford and off we went.

As social networking grew in strength we increased our online presence using our name on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, so far so good, our numbers continue to grow and we have built a community around a shared aesthetic and positive view of growing older.

Last week out of the blue, we started to receive tweets that clearly were not for us, but were hash tagged The Women’s Room. We couldn’t understand what was going on and politely told the tweeters involved they had the wrong name. As the day went on the comments increased, resulting in some really quite irate Tweets, which we simply couldn’t understand. We were then accused of causing the suspension of The Women’s Room UK account – WHAT – we didn’t even know who or what they were, why would we do that?

We eventually discovered there was someone else called The Women’s Room on Twitter, well The Women’s Room UK to be precise, but as we are called The Women’s Room and very obviously based in the UK, they essentially had/have the same name.

The Women’s Room UK is a group set up to promote women’s skills, which is great, we totally support anything that gives women a voice, why wouldn’t we, but we are beyond frustrated that they decided to use the same name. Had they done a simple Google search they would have found us as the first three entries on the first page – which btw has taken us four years of daily posting and no money to achieve.

There is of course nothing we can do, we only own the domain name and it originally came from a book, so we don’t have a leg to stand on. As their organisation grows (which we hope it does) we can only see the confusion increasing, which isn’t great for either of us and we can’t help feeling more than just a little bit annoyed that they didn’t do even just a basic bit of research to avoid this.

Don’t women need to support and encourage each other, not make things difficult and divisive – where’s the solidarity in that?

Watch this space!


  • Helen says:

    I came across this site yesterday and did wonder why they had chosen this name.

    Perhaps TWR blog readers who share your frustration could write politely to the people behind the new site asking them to reconsider their name.

    There does seem to be a lot of potential for confusion and as this blog essentially supports and shares the goals and aspirations of their decision to use the same name does seem rather disrespectful of all the hard work you have put into this blog over the past four years.

    Good luck. Happy to support you if there is anything I can do.

  • kate says:

    think you are being more than reasonable on this, which is after all the best way to resolve it, I do find it bizarre that the other women’s room never even googled you. I really hope they will be as reasonable as you in trying to resolve this, as I think what they’re doing is long overdue also.

  • Helen says:

    And from a different Helen … I too share your frustration!! And pleased to see that the excellent @designhunter_uk has picked this up on Twitter already. The problem is, as you say, ‘ownership’ is an elusive and slippery concept in this online world…
    Anyway, I’ve just tweeted (@museologymanc) about this: I know it’s a tiny action, so let us know if you want us to do more. xx

  • Jane says:

    thanks for your support Helen and Kate – we too have taken to Twitter and emailed the Womens Room UK and are waiting for a response. Will let you know how we get on.
    J x

  • Ros Badger says:

    That is so frustrating, I think you are being incredibly reasonable. I find it hard to believe that in this day and age any savvy business wouldn’t check, double check & triple check a name as it is such a valuable commodity. One would think that the other TWR would want to be individual and stand out as unique.
    By taking my eye off the ball I lost as I didn’t update the domain payment & have to use which I also owned showing the whole internet site name game is a minefield & getting worse.
    Good luck with a resolution that is equally beneficial.

  • jemima101 says:

    Perhaps if you had read the book you would have a clue why the UK group chose the name and why your claim of ownership shows your lack of research.

  • Jane says:

    Jemina have you actually READ this post the link to why we chose the name
    I despair! Jx

  • Rosemary says:

    Judging by the last comment, confusion reigns! Whatever the legalities of the situation, The Woman’s Room UK was clearly second on the scene, and surely must recognise that fact and the undesirability of two websites which have much in common coming unnecessarily to blows. Hope all can be resolved amicably and quickly.

  • amanda says:

    So do we Rosemary and thanks so much for your support….A

  • notsurebut says:

    What a complete nightmare, simple research would have solved this, the women’s room uk promotes its website as a tool for correct and proper research in the promotion of women experts seems that they have fallen at the first hurdle me thinks, their intent is laudable but their application leaves a lot to be desired! I do hope that common sense prevails on their part. Good Luck.

  • Steffi says:

    I have written in the hope that they have, as notsurebut says, common sense. I am sure that once they have backtracked and taken everything into account, they will realise that the only correct way forward is to readjust their name. I find it unbelievable that another women’s community would go so very much against the grain and against its own principles. X

  • I came across the Womens Room UK on twitter and was, despite following you guys since the beginning, momentarily confused. I struggle to understand why anyone would want the same name. Surely it’s about differentiation, point of difference and individual views all of which hang on an original name. Since you were clearly first on the scene it’s in the Womens Room UK’s interest to find an alternative original name. Let me know if there is anything proactive we can do. GG

  • Ruthie says:

    I have followed you since the early days and when i heard about the Womens Room UK my immediate response was that you must be behind it, especially given the synergy of aspirations.

    What a shame- its a great idea, but It seems inconceivable that someone would set up such an initiative without some rudimentary research – to have done so leaves them sadly lacking in credibility. It must be incredibly stressful and distressing to have this happen when you have worked so hard, and the ongoing confusion which will inevitably result is bad news for both parties.

    I am planning to email them to voice my concerns and request that they consider a new name- given that they are so new this cant be too difficult, will bring benefits ( and reduce the buggerment) for both parties. when they are so early in their evolution. we are all behind you, let us know how things go…

  • Jane says:

    thanks SO much for the supportive comments – it means a lot and hopefully we can resolve this like women do, with good grace and humour.

  • Amanda says:

    Am tearing up with all this nice support, it really has been rubbish being trampled all over….thanks Ruthie A

  • Anna says:

    How incredibly awful and frustrating for you both, please let me know if there is anything I can do to support you (not a very savvy twitter user). xx

  • Amanda says:

    Thanks Anna, just keep reading us really, that’s all we want! Your support is appreciated A

  • Monix says:

    Oh how I sympathise !
    This happened to me last year – a blog used my exact business trading name (including what I thought was amusing alternate spelling) but put an “s” on the end. They were blogging about my area of business (graphic design and social stationery) and asked all major UK stationers to contribute to their blog, but somehow had “forgotten” to ask me. So many co -stationers were contacting me asking if I had had got my act together to do this after all!
    It cost me about £2,000 in legal fees to get a “cease and desist” on them and they did pull down their site and twitter account – but the anxious days (and nights!).
    If you need any help at all in this please do let me know – I’d be delighted.
    You both make my day -every day, so the least I could do.
    Good luck!!

  • Sue says:

    This is a bit grim.I really feel for you and I’m sorry I can only offer you moral support.Slightly odd to ride roughshod over an existing site of , to all intents and purposes, the same name though? Xsue

  • Guys, this is really unfortunate and it’s great that you are being reasonable. As it’s early days for The Other Womens Room, there is hope that this can be solved amicably. What better result could there be than you both have different names but can find ways to collaborate, thus boosting the common cause? I don’t know if you know, but a similar thing happened in America not that long ago. As I remember it, Jennine Jacob from Independent Fashion Bloggers had a similar experience when the name of her personal blog THE COVETED was chosen as the name for a new ‘what’s in their closet’-style site by two fashion industry heavyweights. These two well-connected types would not budge for a while, insisting that all their branding etc was THE COVETED yada yada yada (Story here: ). Jennine gathered all the online support she could and finally, a couple of weeks later, THE OTHER COVETED realised this was causing lots of bad publicity and saw sense, changing the name to THE COVETEUR. See here:

    I mean, I don’t know how the law differs between here and US but it might be worth examining the Coveted/Coveteur case and maybe even contacting Jennine Jacob (@thecoveted) for her advice? Hopefully, The Other Womens Room will see sense and rebrand as The Womens Place (hmm not quite the same ring but still…) or similar…

    Mercury is retrograde btw, hence annoying confusions and misunderstanding for next approx 3 weeks (kill me now).

  • Debora says:

    Oh J and A, I’m only just catching up with this and I’m appalled by what’s happened to you, both the initial oversight (let’s be kind) and the clunkingly churlish way it has been handled since. I really love and admire all that you do, and have done for four years. I also support the aims of the other group, obviously, I’m sure we all do, but trampling all over something you’ve so carefully created diminishes my respect for them. Sisterhood is partial, it seems. And rude.

  • jemima101 says:

    Seriously confused by those who think there is any similarity between a site which tells you which candles to buy and a database for the media to use.

    However I did read the piece, and no where did it say you had read French’s book , and since you buy into a capitalist and dismpoweringly conformitve view of how women should present themselves I severely doubt you ever did.

    You do get mentioned here though, feel free to comment.

    Just for the records I am in way associated with the founders of The Womens Room UK and in no way represnt their views.

  • Lilac says:

    will be sending a polite tweet…

  • Ondo Lady says:

    Oh no what a nightmare!! This happened a few years back to The Coveted. What on earth are people thinking? Have you sought legal advice? You might have more rights than you think.

  • Jane Thomas says:

    I have sympathy for your frustration, but Wanted to say I did see your site when googling the other project (I’m not involved in it but I have blogged about it myself). I most certainly did do research, and took a look through your pages at the time. In a few minutes of viewing a ‘life and style blog’ tagline, ads for beauty creams, accessories and hair advice I didn’t in any sense get the impression it was a feminist page, let alone one with the specific aims of the other project, and I concluded it was a very standard online womens magazine blog genre (just for older women) and returned to google. Equally I was aware of the literary reference, but your explanation for the name again didn’t specifically give the impression of an overtly politically active agenda so much as a source of inspiration; perhaps your political activity is well known to people who are familiar to the site, but it wasn’t to me from the current front page info. I do see the frustration and agree it’s not ideal, but as an newcomer with fresh eyes to both sites I genuinely didn’t think the shared goals were self-evident at all, and feel that laying into individuals for not researching and effectively publicly trying to undermine their competence for what they are doing is unjustified

  • Jane Thomas says:

    PS I do like your blog though so you are picking up new readers!!

  • Louise says:

    Some of these comments miss the point entirely. Why do people think it’s ok to use a name already in use? Irrespective of what either sites are about this is extremely poor online etiquette and I personally think it is morally wrong. We can all find a million reasons to justify bad behaviour but I’m sorry, this is just not right.

  • I’ve already said quite a lot but I do think this is an interesting case.No, this TWR is not overtly political or ‘feminist’ although correct me if I’m wrong, I do believe the blog owners do have feminist leanings (as I certainly do), just judging by what I know of them. That’s is not the point as Louise said. The point is there are two sites in the same space with the same name. So if a brand, a charity, a TV programme, a media column, any other organisation in fact, wanted to do a project/collaboration/article about The Womens Room, this could cause confusion. People sitting in a planning meeting could be thinking about two different sites. Because THIS TWR does have a high profile already in its space and a sizable following, so some people in the meeting could be thinking ‘oh yes, The Women’s Room, the fashion and lifestyle site for the 40+ women’s market’ while others would be thinking ‘yes The Women’s Room, the collective of women in the media’ [or whatever it is, I’ve forgotten now, have not been awake long]. They’re not exactly the same but the have enough in common and could have some overlapping readers. In fact, Jane Thomas JUST PROVED IT with her comment above!!!

  • claire says:

    I want to reiterate the support others have offered. When I read about the other TWR on the Guardian, I was very surprised that they had picke the same name and thought they clearly hadn’t done any research. Whether people like this blog or not or think it’s not feminist enough, the simple fact is the new TWR should change their name as there is clearly already confusion and it will probably only get worse.

  • Jude says:

    Sorry, A and J, that all this is happening to you – it’s not deserved at all. When I became aware of this on Twitter this week my immediate impression was that another site had intentionally used a very close version of your blog-name in order to piggy-back on your well-deserved reputation and four years of hard graft. As you say, it’s not rocket science to establish if a blog’s name is already in use, so if no ill intention was meant, then 2 mins of research would have alerted them to your existence. Louise sums this up really well, I think – it is bad online etiquette. Anyway, if it means you’ve picked up some new readers along the way, that’s good – they will very soon realise that TWR is MUCH more than a “very standard online womens magazine blog genre”. And candles. (Cheek of it!)

  • Jane and Amanda – we sympathise and support you. As local readers of you blog and fellow (fledgling) bloggers, we spent time checking that we would not be invading someone else’s space with the name we chose. The Other One surely didn’t do this on purpose? Why don’t they just gracefully accept that this is not a good situation and change their name quickly, before they gather any more followers. It is going to be a constant annoyance for them too, to have to live with the confusion.
    Love your website!
    Agatha and Mildred

  • Jane says:

    It is absoloutely about entering our space and while I have no doubt their intentions are good, they have to realise the this is not good internet ettiquette and as we are all women, we should be especially respectful and considerate of each other.

    We have worked so hard to establish our name and as so many of you say, what they are offering/selling/writing about is irrellivant, its about using a name which is associated with our “brand.”

    Thanks for the great comments and keep em coming


  • amanda says:

    Also can I just say Agatha and Mildred, what a fab blog you have too….showed it to my football mad sons who loved it. And thanks for your lovely comments Ax

  • mary says:

    I think the “other bunch” could be handling this a bit better! Offering my support to you lovely ladies, all the way from sunny Western Australia.

  • Mrs D says:

    Sorry being a Northerner I have to come straight out with it – the word is “Bullocks “– they didn’t either do any research or just thought we like this name and we will steam roller the opposition i.e. you Jane and Amanda – so I would tell them to back down and change their name and point out a basic Google search would have shown you guys up and you can’t tell me they didn’t Google search the name etc – if they didn’t that smacks of unprofessionalism.
    I would stand firm and say change – they have no traffic no history no traction so it’s no loss if they change and they can have a relaunch party where you’ll toast them ……..
    I think they are bulling you personally and you guys are being too nice (sorry but I am a bitch)

  • amanda says:

    Thanks Mrs D, love your point of view and word choice! And Marv, thanks, and everyone, thanks, we have been so uplifted by all your support. A& J

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