Did Gawker Poach Publicist’s ‘That’s Not Okay’ Feature?
10:30 am, September 17th | by Laura Donovan
I can think of a million things I’ve seen on the streets of NYC that are totally unacceptable (gum smacking, standing still on subway steps, taxi drivers who read at stoplights, the list is endless), and publicist Naomi Bulochnikov created a safe space to rant about such nuisances nearly two years ago, when she launched website ThatsNotOkayNY.com with two pals. The site has a decent following as well as a project with Kelsey Grammer’s production company, but it looks as if gossip publication Gawker may have ripped off the idea with its column, “Thatz Not Okay.”
As first reported by FishbowlDC:
[A]bout two months ago, Bulochnikov noticed that the behemoth snark site Gawker started an advice column called “Thatz Not Okay.” Gee how original. Swap a “z” for an “s” and there you have possibly avoided a lawsuit and come up with something ingenious: In other words, someone else’s idea.
Naturally, the “blatant theft” irked Bulochnikov, who had legally trademarked the site and is currently registering it with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Caity Weaver, the writer behind Gawker‘s “Thatz Not Okay” section, reportedly did not get back to FBDC with a comment.
Bulochnikov’s two-year-old site, which is a forum to vent about things that should not happen (i.e., “Asking me if I miss drinking when I’m 6 months sober and in AA. Asshole. TNO,” “Obnoxiously posting multiple photos of your 8 carat wedding ring all over facebook. Don’t be surprised when someone robs you, idiot. TNO.”), is strikingly similar to Gawker‘s two-month old column, which is described as such:
Welcome to Thatz Not Okay, a regular column in which I school inquiring readers on what is and is not okay.
Bulochnikov explained to FBDC that the seeming plagiarism doesn’t sit well with her:
“Blatant theft bothers me. If they liked the idea so much they should’ve come to us. Just because they’re Gawker doesn’t mean they can run renegade on someone else’s idea.”
When asked by The Jane Dough whether she has heard from Gawker since FBDC broke the story, Bulochnikov said, “Gawker has not responded to anyone since Friday. They obviously ripped off the idea. And if by some strange off chance this was accidental, then that’s just bad journalism…”
As noted by FBDC’s Peter Ogburn, there’s a hint of irony to this whole debacle: if anything is “not okay” here, it’s stealing somebody else’s site idea.