The March for Science is going to be on April 14 this year. It is important this year more than ever to stand up for Science and for STEM in the United States as it is all under attack daily throughout our government in its current iteration.
At a time when America needs science and technology to make significant leaps forward to catch up with the rest of the world who has been supporting education, higher education, science, math, technology and engineering with massive efforts, our nation’s leaders have chosen to make war on science at every opportunity and in every agency, every policy, every possible way.
We need education to support STEM now more than ever and to support education for our children and adults to be competitive in a global playing field where we have fallen behind. Now, rather than supporting our nation to be in a leadership role in science, technology, innovation and education, it is being de-funded, demeaned, derided, discredited, dismantled and destroyed.
These actions will set our nation behind by years upon years against other nations’ efforts supporting STEM, higher education and science, in particular. Please join the March for Science – whether you are a scientist or not to show America’s business leaders and political decision-makers that we stand together supporting fact-based and evidence-based decision making, scientific reason and educated thinking.
How would it EVER make sense for me as a company to be required to pay the price I’m charging you for buying me? And, pay the interest on that debt you used to buy me as a company – AND pay you management fees for destroying the company I’ve built that you’re charging me the price of buying – from me – so you can own it?
Why wouldn’t the borrowing that was done to buy Toys R Us belong to the private equity firms who bought it?
What happened to Toys R Us?
Apparently, the company was loaded with debt that came from three private equity firms forcing the company to pay for its own purchase by them back in 2005. Bain Capital, KKR and Vornado Trust Realty bought Toys R Us with the promise they would pay off the $2.3 billion in debt that Toys R Us already had at the time. Then, rather than doing that, these private equity firms added the debt they acquired buying the company and added it to what was already owed by the Toys R Us company.
That meant a debt of $7.2 billion has been owed by the company since that time and each year having to pay to roll it over by servicing the debt and never having paid it off.
Toys R Us was paying $400 million a year to simply service the debt plus paying management fees and making payouts to the private equity firms.
So, despite the toy industry seeing increases across the world in sales and the Babies R Us stores of the chain being profitable AND the 15% share of the entire toy market being enjoyed by Toys R Us which is phenomenal across its 1600 stores in 38 countries – it was forced into complete bankruptcy (Chapter 7 Bankruptcy now).
When Toys R Us sold to Bain, KKR and Vornado, 80 percent of its asking price of the $6.6 billion price tag was paid by Toys R Us and not those acquiring the company – which would be illegal in any other context of finance, loans and buying something.
Then, by putting this debt load on the company, it assured that money coming into the company could not be used in a vast array of other ways to upgrade and maintain their stores, increase their online presence, hire more sales people, or even to keep the sales staff they had that were already familiar with their stores and products, among other things.
Effectively, after buying KB toys which had been the second biggest toy retailer in the US, the same private equity group robbed that company of its cash resources to operate as well, even before the Toys R Us brand was bled dry of cash by the same pattern of destructive acquisition.
After buying KB Toys in 2000, Bain and its co-investors had the retailer borrow $85 million to pay the firm and its co-investors a dividend — a move that left the chain, which had been generating steady earnings, strapped for cash as deepening price cuts at Walmart lured more shoppers away from malls.
In that case, Bain’s cash grab left it with a profit on its investment, despite the fact that 86-year-old KB Toys got liquidated in 2008.
It looks like Toys R Us, that was built from 1948 into a mammoth successful and very profitable toy stores, wasn’t bought for $6.6 billion. It was bought for $1.3 billion in equity by the three firms, Bain Capital, Vornado Realty Trust and KKR.
This article said that the fees and interest on the debt from that buyout was costing Toys R Us $470 million a year in service. It also says that the price for the company during the buyout was $7.3 billion. Of which, the private equity firms put up what? Obviously, not cash. I’m going to look that up.
Bain, KKR, Vornado Suffer Wipeout in Toys ‘R’ Us Bankruptcy
The three firms and their co-investors sank $1.3 billion of equity into the takeover of the Wayne, New Jersey-based toy company, financing the rest with debt, according to company filings. The debt included senior loans in which they held a stake.
Partly offsetting the loss is more than $470 million in fees and interest payments that Toys “R” Us awarded the firms over time.
And from this article, it describes briefly, the typical method involved in these types of buyouts which follow a pattern of destroying the assets of the company’s operations while stealing resources (legally) at every point along the way.
It would be as if I gave someone $3 to own something that cost $2,000 and had someone else responsible for paying the entire amount, and giving me back several thousand dollars for having put up $3 in the first place.
I’d almost bet the $3 they used in the form of $1.3 billion wasn’t even cash or real assets.
Toys R Us and why the retail downturn is all about debt
“Leverage just means you’re using lots of debt,” said Eileen Appelbaum, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research.
If a private equity firm wants to buy a company, it’ll put up a small portion of the money. Then it’ll go to the bank and borrow the rest.
The key? “They put the debt on the company they buy,” Appelbaum said.
In other words, the firms take out these loans, buy a company and then make that company pay the loans back.
Despite having 15% of toys sales in the marketplace and a heavier shopping season last Christmas with shoppers spending $800 billion during the holiday season, according to FT (see below for article), Toys R Us was facing massive loan payment costs that put it into liquidation status.
Toys ‘R’ Us Has 15% of the Toy Market And It’s Still Going Under. Here’s Why.
Fifteen percent of U.S. toy revenue. With that kind of market share, Toys ‘R’ Us should be in a comfortable position, not on the ropes.
The pattern followed by Toys “R” Us is typical in private equity takeovers. Management is bought off: John Eyler, CEO of Toys “R” Us, was compensated $65.3 million upon the buyout’s completion. Employees have no say in the matter. Then come the layoffs, debt transfers and shortsighted asset sales. Funds are earmarked to pay down debts—Toys “R” Us was spending more annually on debt payments than it was on its website and stores—even as cash reserves are depleted.
US retail’s turbulent relationship with private equity
DECEMBER 29, 2017
FT research shows many of the largest leveraged buyouts in the sector over the past decade have either defaulted, gone bankrupt or are in distress
At least 50 US retailers — including Toys R Us, children’s retailer Gymboree, shoe store Payless and jean maker True Religion — have filed for bankruptcy this year, the most in six years, with analysts describing it as a “day of reckoning”, for companies that rolled over their debt refinancing for years.
Observers warn that the distress is likely to accelerate in 2018 with nearly $6bn in high-yield retail debt set to mature.
The swift unraveling of the toy seller, at $6.9bn the third-largest retail bankruptcy in history, jolted vendors, who are critical to a retailer’s health.
There was some respite for bricks-and-mortar retailers this week with US shoppers spending more than $800bn in the holiday season, a 3.8 per cent rise from last year,
Looking at the article below, it occurred to me that possibly, the private equity firms own some of the debt made to the companies required to pay for their own buyouts by someone else.
Then the fees for those loans are also being paid to the private equity or investment firms holding them, on top of the management fees and other dividend payments, plus other payouts they’re are finagling from the company.
And, all of it providing a stream of resources to the investment funds that should legally belong to the company for its operation, sustenance, growth and as a prudent cash reserve against changes in the market.
The retail apocalypse is being fueled by private equity firms adding to debt loads
Nearly every retail chain caught up in the brick & mortar meltdown is an LBO queen – acquired in a leveraged buyout by a private equity firm either during the LBO boom before the Financial Crisis or in the years of ultra-cheap money following it. During a leveraged buyout, the PE firm uses little of its own capital. Much of the money needed to buy the retailer comes from debt the retailer itself has to issue to fund the buyout, which leaves the retailer highly leveraged.
The PE firm then makes the retailer issue even more junk bonds or leveraged loans to fund a special dividend back to the PE firm. Come hell or high water, the PE firm has extracted its money.
Then the PE firm charges the retailer hefty management fees on an ongoing basis.
A lot of times, these PE firms acquire part of the bonds before bankruptcy of their portfolio company for cents on the dollar. For example, Bain Capital bought significant amounts of Gymboree bonds. This gives PE firms more control during the bankruptcy proceedings, and they win again.
Why do institutional investors fund asset-stripping associated with LBOs and special dividends? Some of the answers are in Wall Street’s culture where fee extraction is everything, and one firm helps another. And too, they’re chasing yield in a world where central banks have repressed yield. Which turns out to be a costly chase.
Sports Authority is Another Loss to Our Country Caused By Leveraged Buyout Nightmare
A number of retailers have suffered this buyout process whereby the company being acquired is forced to pay for itself to be bought out by loading the profit making retailer (or other types of companies) with massive debt and extra costs to pay off cash to those who “bought” it.
But, since when do you or I get to buy something for nothing but a promise of 10% on the cost of it and then enslave the operation to pay off the rest for that purchase while streaming most of its available cash to us in fees and dividends?
From this article describing the process that took apart Sports Authority –
Leveraged buyouts saddle retailers with debts they can’t repay
April 29, 2016
But Englewood-based Sports Authority was loaded with at least $643 million in debt, a hangover from the $1.4 billion leveraged buyout in 2006 by investors led by Leonard Green & Partners.
Sports Authority’s bankruptcy plan initially included closing 140 of its 463 stores. But lawyers for the chain said in court last week that the company now is pursuing liquidation, leaving workers jobless and shopping centers across America anchorless.
In the fast-evolving world of retail, where the one constant is the need for investment, retailers laboring under heavy debt are at a disadvantage.
“Doing it right is very expensive,” said Raya Sokolyanska, an analyst with Moody’s Investor Service in New York. “Limited financial flexibility has been a reason why a lot of these retailers haven’t been able to fight back and position themselves correctly for growth.”
Private equity firms have been connected to a rash of retail bankruptcies in recent years, including Gymboree, Payless ShoeSource, The Limited Stores, True Religion Apparel, and most recently, Toys “R” Us.
(. . . )
But Toys “R” Us wasn’t pushed into court because of terrible sales — it recorded nearly $1 billion in online sales in 2016, according to a spokesperson, and had earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization of $792 million. Rather, the company was struggling to pay down its staggering debt load — for which it could thank its 2005 leveraged buyout. Bain Capital Private Equity and KKR & Co. teamed up with real estate investment trust Vornado Realty Trust to acquire the company for approximately $6.6 billion, including $5.3 billion of debt secured by the company’s assets.
Why Private Equity Firms Like Bain Really Are the Worst of Capitalism
Here’s what private equity is really about: A firm like Bain obtains cheap credit and uses it to acquire a company in a “leveraged buyout.” “Leverage” refers to the fact that the company being purchased is forced to pay for about 70 percent of its own acquisition, by taking out loans. If this sounds like an odd arrangement, that’s because it is. Imagine a homebuyer purchasing a house and making the bank responsible for repaying its own loan, and you start to get the picture.
O.K., but what about this much more virtuous business of swooping in and restoring struggling companies to financial health? Well, that’s not a large part of what private equity firms do, either. In fact, they more typically target profitable, slow-growth market leaders. (Private equity firms presently own companies employing one of every 10 U.S. workers, or 10 million people.)
And that’s when the fun starts. Once the buyout is completed, the private equity guys start swinging the meat axe, aggressively cutting costs wherever they can – so that the company can start paying off its new debt – by laying off workers and cutting capital costs.
This process often boosts operating profit without a significant hit to the business, but only in the short term; in the long run, the austerity approach makes it difficult for companies to stay competitive, not least because money that would otherwise have been invested in expansion or product development – which might increase revenue down the line – is used to pay off the company’s debt.
It takes several years before the impacts of this predatory activity – reduced customer service, inferior products – become fully apparent, but by that time the private equity firm has generally resold the business at a profit and moved on.
The next article reminded me of how much is at stake for vendors, toy manufacturers, shippers, shopping malls and strip mall groups that have used Toys R Us to stock their shelves with products, rent large anchor properties and draw traffic to other stores nearby. All of these will be suffering hits, possibly causing layoffs beyond those being caused directly by the bankruptcy of Toys R Us as it closes 2600 stores.
How $5 billion of debt caught up with Toys ‘R’ Us
SEPTEMBER 20, 2017
But the company’s ability to kick the can down the road had been exhausted. The bankruptcy filing was the culmination of an unsuccessful seven-month effort by Toys “R” Us to find relief from its $5.2 billion debt pile, according to bankruptcy court filings and people familiar with the deliberations.
The advisers that Toys “R” Us hired to fix its capital structure explored at least two deals with some of its creditors to raise money that would have helped the company stave off bankruptcy before the key holiday shopping season, avoiding a supply chain disruption stemming from vendor fears about repayment, a bankruptcy filing shows.
Once the company realized that it could not secure financing to get through the holiday season, the objective became “let’s get it done as quick as possible so it does not interrupt the holidays,” Toys “R” Us Chief Executive Officer David Brandon told Reuters in an interview. Filing for bankruptcy allowed the company to secure financing to continue to operate its stores.
Given that “we successfully obtained our debtor-in-possession financing today, we can assure our lenders that we are in a good position to accept shipments on a normal basis and they have great assurance they will be paid,” Brandon said.
Like other retailers that own their stores, Toys “R” Us tried last month to tap its vast real estate portfolio to raise money in a sale-leaseback transaction, according to court filings. Sale-leaseback deals allow retailers to raise cash by selling real estate they own and then renting it back from the new owner. (which didn’t work, my note.)
More Layoffs for Retailers Already Having Massive Store Closings and Layoffs
Jobs everywhere! Except at stores
January 5, 2018
Record numbers of store closings and a surge in retail bankruptcies, as well as the shift to online shopping, have forced retailers to slash jobs even as other employers scramble to find qualified workers.
The sector lost a total of 66,500 jobs in 2017.
General merchandise stores, the segment that includes department stores, were hit the hardest, losing 90,300 jobs, according to the Friday’s December jobs report from the Labor Department. Clothing stores cut another 28,600 jobs. Drug stores lost 18,400.
So the job losses in the sector are likely to continue said Nicholas. In 2017, 7,000 store closings were announced, a record that was more than triple 2016’s number. And the trend will undoubtedly continue in 2018. Sears Holdings (SHLD), owner of both Sears and Kmart, said Thursday it plans to close more than 100 additional stores.
According to BLS data, the number of retail openings in February slumped to 541,000, down by 40,000, its worst performance since 2015. (U.S. News)
BLS data also showed retail layoffs and discharges climbed 37% in February and reached a total of 212,000 – its highest level in nearly two years. (U.S. News)
Unlike in 2008, Americans today are shopping more than ever.
While the last spike in retail bankruptcies during the Great Recession was clearly a byproduct of consumer stress, this time around consumers are actually spending more than ever. According to Gallup, February 2017 marked the highest average in consumer spending since 2008, with no signs of slowing.
The US retail industry is hemorrhaging jobs – and it’s hitting women hardest
January 13, 2018
As the retail landscape undergoes a dramatic transformation, analysis finds 129,000 women lost jobs last year while men actually gained positions.
Between November 2016 and November 2017, the sector fired 129,000 women (the largest loss for any industrial sector for either sex) while men gained 109,000 positions, according to an analysis by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR). In the whole labour force women gained 985,000 jobs over the year, while men gained 1.08m jobs.
(also from this article – )
Major retailers shut shops across the US last year. A record 6,700 stores shut in 2017, according to Fung Global Retail & Technology, a retail thinktank. Macy’s alone closed 68 stores and shed 10,000 jobs. Drugstore chain Walgreens closed 600 locations.
A comment in this article says a lot of what I’ve been thinking. And, why is it that Bain, KKR and Vornado didn’t have to pay the loan payments they took out to buy Toys R Us? Shouldn’t that debt belong to the buyers, not the company they’ve bought? (This article also lists a number of the retail bankruptcies from 2017, including Radio Shack.)
Big Wall Street banks are not likely to blow the whistle on asset-stripping scams in the private equity world. They are frequently involved in collecting fees for advising on the LBOs. Then they reap more huge windfalls in fees when they underwrite the bond offerings that load up the company with debt it can’t service on a long term basis.
So the overarching question in all of this is: where is the Securities and Exchange Commission, the so-called cop on the beat that is supposed to be policing the publicly traded corporate bonds involved in these deals?
In April, Aisha Al-Muslim, a reporter for Newsday, the Long Island, New York newspaper, found the following after an in-depth review of court documents and data from top research firms like S&P Global Market Intelligence:
“…43 large retail or supermarket companies, which owned chains with 10 or more locations, have filed for bankruptcy in the United States since January 2015. The 43 companies controlled 52 brick-and-mortar chains.
“Of those 43 companies, 18 — more than 40 percent — were owned by private equity firms. The remainder were public or private companies or owned by a hedge fund.”
When 40 percent of insolvent large retail companies got this way at the hands of the so-called turnaround experts at private-equity firms while huge amounts of money moved from the coffers of the company to the pockets of the “experts,” it’s time for Federal regulators to get involved.
Private equity firms bled the company dry to turn a profit, and now mass layoffs are imminent.
Upon closer examination, however, this analysis doesn’t hold up. First, the global toy industry isn’t in decline. In fact, it’s been growing consistently over the past five years. Physical toys may be less popular in the United States than they once were, but internationally—particularly in Asian and Latin American countries—the play business is booming. And most of Toys “R” Us’s profits actually come from its Babies “R” Us affiliate which sells not just toys but also health, safety and educational tools for infant care.
Yet most importantly, this analysis fails to account for how Toys “R” Us wound up so deeply in debt in the first place. In 2005, as the company’s stock was regularly losing value due to mediocre sales, management decided to sell the company in a leveraged buyout to a trio of buyers, real-estate-investment trust Vornado Realty Trust and private equity firms KKR and Bain Capital.
This trio played a critical role in the downfall of Toys “R” Us, through imposing massive debt obligations on the company and requiring it to pay back its debts so that its buyers could turn a profit. Meanwhile, the finances of the company were thrown into disarray and employees were hit with wave after wave of layoffs.
Vornado Realty Trust, KKR and Bain Capital financed 80 percent of the purchase of Toys “R” Us, so while the company sold for $6.6 billion, the trio only contributed $1.3 billion. As part of the purchase agreement, the companies also agreed to take responsibility for all of Toys “R” Us’s long-term debt obligations, which at the time totaled $2.3 billion. Once Toys R Us was taken over, however, the debt Vornado Realty, KKR and Bain used to acquire it was pushed back onto the company, skyrocketing its debt obligations to $7.6 billion.
Toys “R” Us has been paying $400 million a year to service these debts. This money could have been used to lower prices or improve the company’s website—not to mention raising pay to its employees—but instead went to paying off creditors. Last year, the company reported a loss of $29 million. If it weren’t for these debt payments, Toys “R” Us would have run a substantial profit.
In both instances, critics say Bain and its private-equity partners left the chains vulnerable by saddling them with heavy debt loads as they took them private, crippling their capacity to compete in brutal price wars that have dogged the industry.
A leveraged buyout (LBO) is a financial transaction in which a company is purchased with a combination of equity and debt, such that the company’s cash flow is the collateral used to secure and repay the borrowed money.
(also – KKR appears in the history of corporate raiding during the 80’s and beyond – plus this, of interest)
The inability to repay debt in an LBO can be caused by initial overpricing of the target firm and/or its assets. Over-optimistic forecasts of the revenues of the target company may also lead to financial distress after acquisition. Some courts have found that in certain situations, LBO debt constitutes a fraudulent transfer under U.S. insolvency law if it is determined to be the cause of the acquired firm’s failure.
The outcome of litigation attacking a leveraged buyout as a fraudulent transfer will generally turn on the financial condition of the target at the time of the transaction – that is, whether the risk of failure was substantial and known at the time of the LBO, or whether subsequent unforeseeable events led to the failure. The analysis historically depended on “dueling” expert witnesses and was notoriously subjective, expensive, and unpredictable. However, courts are increasingly turning toward more objective, market-based measures.
Private equity typically refers to investment funds organized as limited partnerships that are not publicly traded and whose investors are typically large institutional investors, university endowments, or wealthy individuals. Private equity firms are known for their extensive use of debt financing to purchase companies, which they restructure and attempt to resell for a higher value. Debt financing reduces corporate taxation burdens and is one of the principal ways in which private equity firms make business more profitable for investors.
Leveraged buyout, LBO or Buyout refers to a strategy of making equity investments as part of a transaction in which a company, business unit or business assets is acquired from the current shareholders typically with the use of financial leverage. The companies involved in these transactions are typically mature and generate operating cash flows.
Private equity firms view target companies as either Platform companies which have sufficient scale and a successful business model to act as a stand-alone entity, or as add-on or tuck-in acquisitions, which would include companies with insufficient scale or other deficits.
Leveraged buyouts involve a financial sponsor agreeing to an acquisition without itself committing all the capital required for the acquisition. To do this, the financial sponsor will raise acquisition debt which ultimately looks to the cash flows of the acquisition target to make interest and principal payments.Acquisition debt in an LBO is often non-recourse to the financial sponsor and has no claim on other investments managed by the financial sponsor. Therefore, an LBO transaction’s financial structure is particularly attractive to a fund’s limited partners, allowing them the benefits of leverage but greatly limiting the degree of recourse of that leverage. This kind of financing structure leverage benefits an LBO’s financial sponsor in two ways: (1) the investor itself only needs to provide a fraction of the capital for the acquisition, and (2) the returns to the investor will be enhanced (as long as the return on assets exceeds the cost of the debt).
As a percentage of the purchase price for a leverage buyout target, the amount of debt used to finance a transaction varies according to the financial condition and history of the acquisition target, market conditions, the willingness of lenders to extend credit (both to the LBO’s financial sponsors and the company to be acquired) as well as the interest costs and the ability of the company to cover those costs. Historically the debt portion of a LBO will range from 60%–90% of the purchase price, although during certain periods the debt ratio can be higher or lower than the historical averages. Between 2000–2005 debt averaged between 59.4% and 67.9% of total purchase price for LBOs in the United States.
Simple example of leveraged buyout
A private equity fund say for example, ABC Capital II, borrows $9bn from a bank (or other lender). To this it adds $2bn of equity – money from its own partners and from limited partners (pension funds, rich individuals, etc.). With this $11bn it buys all the shares of an underperforming company, XYZ Industrial (after due diligence, i.e. checking the books). It replaces the senior management in XYZ Industrial, and they set out to streamline it. The workforce is reduced, some assets are sold off, etc. The objective is to increase the value of the company for an early sale.
The stock market is experiencing a bull market, and XYZ Industrial is sold two years after the buy-out for $13bn, yielding a profit of $2bn. The original loan can now be paid off with interest of, say, $0.5bn. The remaining profit of $1.5bn is shared among the partners. Taxation of such gains is at capital gains rates.
Note that part of that profit results from turning the company around, and part results from the general increase in share prices in a buoyant stock market, the latter often being the greater component.
Often the loan/equity ($11bn above) is not paid off after sale but left on the books of the company (XYZ Industrial) for it to pay off over time. This can be advantageous since the interest is typically offsettable against the profits of the company, thus reducing, or even eliminating, tax.
Most buyout deals are much smaller; the global average purchase in 2013 was $89m, for example.
The target company (XYZ Industrials here) does not have to be floated on the stockmarket; indeed most buyout exits are not IPOs.
Buy-out operations can go wrong and in such cases the loss is increased by leverage, just as the profit is if all goes well.
The application of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) in certain states in the United States has made certain performance data more readily available. Specifically, FOIA has required certain public agencies to disclose private equity performance data directly on their websites.
In the United Kingdom, the second largest market for private equity, more data has become available since the 2007 publication of the David Walker Guidelines for Disclosure and Transparency in Private Equity.
How would it EVER make sense for me as a company to be required to pay the price I’m charging you for buying me?
And, pay the interest on that debt you used to buy me as a company – AND pay you management fees for destroying the company I’ve built that you’re charging me the price of buying – from me – so you can own it?
In what world does any of that make sense as anything but theft and embezzlement whether legal or not?
Can you imagine what it would take to start a company today and garner 15% of the toy market? And yet, here is a company that already has that which is being decimated by a very corrupt business practice of Wall Street investment firms – to the detriment of America.
It is obvious that time is important That seems to me it is a given fact yet many people do not look at it that way. Or, perhaps each of us find a different approach to our use of time and its importance in our lives.
In one sense, I understand people will do certain things in certain ways they find either useful or appropriate from the standpoint of their experience and learned concepts of judgment. That is a fact.
It means in practice, that each person will make many series of choices based on those judgments whether they are truly appropriate or not. And, make those judgments for their choices even where new information may be needed.
That is the part I don’t understand and don’t want to understand anymore either. When people around me choose to use their time as if it is not precious, and as if nothing beyond what they knew sometime long ago about things can be the only way to look at it even now – I just shake my head and try to ignore it.
It is a futile argument to have with them. They are not going to update their files, no matter what I say or show them. But, I don’t understand why they can afford to be that way. I can’t. And, there is nothing comforting to me when I find myself doing it either.
When I’m closed minded and base everything on facts from some past that does not even begin to apply to today, it is a loss and a liability – not an asset for me. But, others around me do not look at it that way for themselves and their own choices.
And, they don’t believe it is important to use their time in ways that will help to understand how things are today and what works, what doesn’t, how it can be done now, and other ways of looking at it (whatever “it” is).
In a quick anecdote, some friends and family members in my world only watch old tv shows from the 70’s, maybe 80’s and before. That is their source of continuing information about what the world is like, what people are like and what attitudes, choices and perspectives are appropriate to use about situations and things – yet, how our daily lives and our world has changed since then.
It isn’t that everything from those tv shows is wrong and they are certainly still entertaining as part of the entertainment we feed ourselves daily, but to have only that for information is dangerous.
Many beliefs from that time have changed, many facts have changed and many attitudes about what is appropriate and what is not, have changed since those shows were made. They are a reflection of a different time and a different society entirely.
So, where that is the only information about what is normal, accepted and appropriate, or commonly believed by “everyone” – as a basis of judgment about situations, people and actions or behaviors in situations today, it can be disastrous and make everything more difficult both for the person and those around them including me.
People in my life who have or who are using these old tv shows on a constant streaming basis as their primary or only source of information, continue to shock me in the level of closed-mindedness they use commonly and overtly in their everyday lives. It is amazing that it has not gotten them killed to be honest.
It certainly makes everything that is different today about our daily lives into a source of aggravation for them, and disdain, and contempt and vicious attacks on others to make it like it “should be”, from a time that doesn’t exist anymore.
A great “for instance” is the social premise that a phone should not be called nor answered at the dinner table where in the picture obvious from old tv sitcoms, the family sits in their entirety around a table with proper plates, and dinner served by Mom.
Yet today, if a text or iPhone isn’t answered at the dinner table which is likely the coffee table in the living room or at some restaurant, a host of difficulties can arise from losing a job, to losing a business opportunity, to losing a friend’s trust, to being shamed and bullied on Facebook because you were too rude and uppity to answer your damn phone or text.
It has changed socially to become rude not to answer because technology has made it possible for that phone to be ever present and everybody knows it. That is not going to be the case in an old tv drama, sitcom or social information from thirty or forty years ago.
The people whose sole information on social conventions, behavior and choices, how to think about things and what is appropriate, comes from those old tv shows will read that phone call during dinnertime as an insult to whoever cooked the food, an infinite insult to the people gathered to eat together, a lack of caring on the part of anyone who takes such a call, and a slap in the face to the family or the friendship in general.
It is a shame to watch actions and choices unfold based on that interpretation when it is so hopelessly out of date and inappropriate to today’s facts in nearly every way possible. But that same person reacting to the situation based upon facts that are out of date, is also the least likely to want to do anything to change the way they look at it.
And, tomorrow and the next day, they will continue to absorb those old tv sitcoms and dramas for agreement with the way they see things and support their own aggravation based on those interpretations of things – based upon how things were at the time when those shows were made and only in the ways it is shown on those tv shows.
The writers of tv shows were not intending to be the voice of knowledge and information when they did their jobs. The views of life and facts given by those shows were never intended to be absolutely accurate in any sense and certainly portray only a fraction of life and thought about social mores at the time.
In the real world, every family’s lifestyle was being played out in a vast array of differences from what the tv world could or would portray for the mainstream audiences. What the appropriate way to consider anything would be in real life and the facts surrounding it, its interpretations and social conventions – would have to be different in many ways to its portrayal for any show whether television, cable, news or movies, simply because of the medium.
So, the part I don’t understand about people around me that use old tv shows as their only information source is why don’t they know it isn’t the same information as what is used and needed in everyday life – even then and certainly, now.
And, how this has anything to do with the importance of time? Think about it – lost in translations of how things should be – from a time period that no longer exists, that was portrayed for a tv show as an entertaining slice of something which didn’t even exist that way in the real world then? And to get aggravated, combative and abusive to everyone, everything and anytime today’s facts and social conventions are viewed through those tv sitcoms as textbooks for judging what is what today?
Hmmm, yes – that is a waste of time that is inherently evil no matter who does it.
The question of what damage could a Trump extreme right-wing cabinet and Presidency do to America is on many people’s minds.
I found this entry on a draft post on my CricketDiane blog from the GOP run America of the years before President Obama and the Democrats took over the ship (at least partially since the GOP continued to run most states) – and righted our economy.
The cost to taxpayers and homeowners plus Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac shareholders is known now, eight years later and it obviously hurt our economy in ways that destroyed lives, decimated communities and degraded the opportunities for massive numbers of Americans and their families for several generations yet to come.
The Federal Housing Finance Agency placed Washington-based Fannie and McLean, Virginia-based Freddie in a so-called conservatorship and ousted the chief executive officers. The Treasury agreed to invest as much as $100 billion in each company through preferred stock purchases as needed and put common shareholders on notice that they will rank last in the government’s consideration. 
I couldn’t remember where this quote came from, so I did a google search with it and these entries came up –
Gov’t may soon take over troubled mortgage finance giants Fannie Mae, … and Freddie and topurchase stock in the two companies if needed. … The Treasury plans to put Fannie andFreddie into a so– called conservatorship and pump … Paulson consulted with Bank of America Chief Executive Officer …
Mudd, the son of TV anchor Roger Mudd, was elevated to Fannie Mae’s top post in December 2004 when chief executive Franklin Raines and chief financial officer Timothy Howard were swept out of office in an accounting scandal. Syron was named Freddie Mac’s CEO in 2003, replacing former chief Gregory Parseghian, who was ousted in after being implicated in accounting irregularities.
He formerly was executive chairman of Thermo Electron Corp., a Waltham, Mass.-based maker of scientific equipment, served head of the American Stock Exchange was president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston in the early 1990s.
Fannie Mae was created by the government in 1938, and was turned into a shareholder-owned company 30 years later. Freddie Mac was established in 1970 to provide competition for Fannie.
A government takeover could cost taxpayers up to $25 billion, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
[from – AP 2008 – Gov’t may soon take over troubled mortgage finance giants Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac] (included in post above)
The Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (FHLMC), known as Freddie Mac, is a public government-sponsored enterprise (GSE), headquartered in the Tyson’s Corner CDP in unincorporated Fairfax County, Virginia. … On September 7, 2008, Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) director James B. Lockhart III …
The litigation surrounding Fannie and Freddie’s conservatorship raises all … 2 See FEDERAL HOUSING FINANCE AGENCY (FHFA), ENTERPRISE SHARE OF …. Preferred Stock PurchaseAgreements (PSPAs) with the Treasury. … make unlimited equity and debt investments in the two companies‘ securities through.
Oct 4, 2016 – Kenneth C. Griffin, chief executive officer of Citadel Inves … “and gave the government every benefit of the doubt as she did so, and … Judge Sweeney, in the Court ofFederal Claims in Washington, D.C., and a … placed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac intoconservatorship, with … Sponsored Financial Content.
But, for decades, Fannie Mae had been under siege from powerful enemies, who … with astock-market value of more than $70 billion and more earnings per … an obscure government agency known as the Federal Housing Finance Agency … in Fannie and Freddie (which was also put into conservatorship that same day), …
Sep 7, 2008 – Treasury Senior Preferred Stock Purchase Agreement. 2. …. Fannie Mae andFreddie Mac debt and mortgage backed securities outstanding today … indefinite in duration and have a capacity of $100 billion each, … If the Federal Housing Finance Agency determines that a GSE’s liabilities have exceeded its.
Obviously, there are repercussions from the GOP run years that have even yet to be realized despite all the efforts of the Obama administration to make things right. But, since Donald Trump has been given these shoes to fill as President of the United States and has nominated a host of extreme right wing loyalists in positions of power, it is time to look at the playing fields that will be impacted by their policies and actions.
This quote I found that tops this post, led me to find a few things of help and value as well, which many Americans need to access before everything potentially damaging can be enacted by the GOP backed new administration, GOP run Congress and Senate as well as the predominantly GOP run state legislatures across the country.
As promised by GOP after the 2008 decimation of housing values, as millions of Americans suffered from mortgage values far in excess of market values for their homes, many programs were put in place – nearly all of which performed poorly or not at all to relieve homeowners from these blighted economic difficulties.
However, today I found this program that relieves the principle owed on upside down mortgages and it is a current program. Before it is decimated by the Republicans coming into policy making extremes of the new administration run by Trump, it is worth taking advantage of this program as quickly as possible.
There are areas of the country that are to be mainly served by this program’s opportunities but not necessarily exclusive to those areas of the country and that would be worth finding out if you are a homeowner who is in need of this program’s help and promises.
I found it at the Federal Housing Finance Agency website – and there may be three people in the entire world that actually know it exists and they are probably bankers. Many programs to help homeowners have been issued through other agencies and to get a realistic list of them and their requirements would likely be a Herculean effort. But, start here and find the requirements briefly that I’ve added from their website. The link to the page is below the quoted material.
– cricketdiane, 12-29-2016
PRINCIPAL REDUCTION MODIFICATION
The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) undertook an extensive evaluation to determine whether to implement a Principal Reduction Modification program for seriously delinquent, underwater borrowers whose loans are owned or guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac (the Enterprises). FHFA’s objective was to develop a program that helped targeted borrowers avoid foreclosure while also adhering to FHFA’s mandate to preserve and conserve the assets of the Enterprises.
Am I Eligible?
Your loan must be owned or guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac and meet basic criteria.
At least 90 days delinquent as of March 1, 2016
Unpaid principal balance of $250,000 or less as of March 1, 2016
I’ve been creating nearly every day since I was a kid and that is over 50 years. I’ve created in numerous ways in a range that moves from art to problem-solving to inventing, creating music, sculpting and painting to writing and doing various computer / online based projects.
“It is better to make the effort to move forward and release the flow of ideas to work with them and do things creatively, create things and invent and write and make – I definitely know that by experience.” – cricketdiane, 2018 ** You can find more of my art and designs here –
Is it the barbecues, picnics, going to the lake, family holidays and fireworks? Well, not really. Is Fourth of July a note to the freedoms we enjoy everyday? Sort of. But really, what does it signify anymore? Is it a time to sell more hotdogs in ads that show us grilling out in our backyard, or simply an excuse to buy three cases of beer for the weekend? What is Fourth of July anymore anyway?
A few days ago, my granddaughter who is six stopped in the living room as the ballgame crowd was singing, God Bless America with hands over their hearts and scenes of the American flag blowing in the breeze over the ballpark. She stood proudly, put her hand over her heart and started singing with them, God Bless America in our living room. And a good friend over for a while sitting to watch the ballgame made a comment of embarrassment that would have shamed her for doing it. And I said, “well sometimes, something has to be important.” That’s true. It can’t be that we are all to sophisticated to join and support respect for our country and what it stands for.
And for days now, that scene rolls about in my mind, of my granddaughter innocently and grandly showing her patriotism in the safety of her own space joining with others on the tele box at the ballgame doing the same thing. And, more and more, I’ve thought about those few minutes of our friend’s reaction being so out of place and bizarre in a sense, and yet, understandable in a time when overt shows of pride in our nation are not for the modern and sophisticated every day person (unless at the ballgame in person or at some public rally specific to it.)
And, I’ve thought about the freedoms to do what we would choose in our own homes, how it is very bizarre for it to be socially unacceptable to stand and sing the National Anthem or America the Beautiful, to join in saying the Pledge of Allegiance, to salute for a parade of soldiers on the tele (even in person at the parade), or to put hand over heart and stand when appropriate to the event we are watching on the TV singing with the National Anthem as the crowd does. How bizarre a lack of freedom that is, in the very country where those freedoms have been fought for, paid for, died for, won for and firmly established. Really, that is strange.
As I think about it, I’m reminded of a recent conversation with one of my daughters in their late 20’s who told me when I was designing tshirts for the Fourth of July and things with the American flag on them, that it has been unpopular and not trendy to wear a shirt with the American flag on it for the Fourth of July. And, yesterday she explained that most people don’t want to wear or carry things in red, white and blue for the Independence Day events, whether it is a headband, party sunglasses, hats or a stick with streamers on it.
I’m not sure if this is true because around the Fourth of July weekend there is lots of those things sold, but maybe it is unpopular or has been recently unpopular for people to embrace those things to use for celebrating the Fourth as an expression of their love for America. Maybe it is okay to have red, white and blue balloons attached to the mailbox to show their barbecue is happening in the backyard for the Fourth of July, but not to wear a shirt that shows those colors or an American flag or says USA. That is bizarre too.
It’s as if we’ve all taken on that contempt found in TV shows’ character dialogs and one-liners that belittles and shames all things expressing our belief in something important and of expressing any feeling of caring about something.important. So is it easier to not engage the moment and express those feelings of oneness with our nation, our pride of place and honor for those who’ve fought to defend it, than to risk being vilified and demeaned even in our own homes for doing it? Really? To be called crazy for standing up and singing the National Anthem or God Bless America even in our own homes – in the privacy of our own homes? Is that what it is to live in this great nation of ours, that even in our own homes, we don’t actually enjoy THAT freedom?
NO. Sometimes, some things have to be important – fashionable or not. It is, in my estimation, not trendy, not fashionable AND it is not sane to belittle anyone as they do on TV shows, sitcoms and even the kid’s shows. It isn’t funny, no one is laughing at it anymore – not for many years now, and despite the popularity of re-running things to hell and back, those dialogs are not the real dialogs between real people in real lives, nor would we ever want them to be. Their ideas of my patriotism and expressions of it cannot be what works in my house nor the definition of what goes in my house and what my choices are for my house. And, it shouldn’t be either, that social conventions described by popular TV sitcoms, reality shows and animated adult humor shows choose our expressions of or reactions to patriotic feelings being expressed, or any damn thing else for that matter.
What Fourth of July means to me is that we all stop for a moment and say together in one voice that it matters, that what has been fought for, defended, protected, lives lost for, tremendous efforts made for and hard won to be a nation of freedom and full human rights honored and protected for everyone – matters. And, that we all agree despite everything on which we disagree – that the United States of America is more than a legacy, that it is ours and together we promise to protect what she stands for , to further what she offers to all, to strengthen and keep her safe from those who would destroy her, and to continue her grand ideals of freedoms and inalienable human rights, opportunities to thrive and equality today and in the future.
And, Fourth of July means that we will honor those efforts made that came before we were ever part of this great nation, to hold her dear, value her ideals, cherish her strengths and make her stronger still.
And frankly, I don’t care what tshirt anyone wears and whether it has an American flag on it or not for the Fourth of July holiday events. I am proud to say that my America lets you wear what you damn well please and I’m an American who supports your freedom and rights to do so. That is what matters.
I pledge allegiance, to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible with Liberty and Justice for ALL. – means we agree on some things being important, despite the many things on which we disagree. It is our duty, our responsibility AND our honor to uphold these Truths noted in the beginning of our Declaration of Independence and structured to be protected by our US Constitution and Bill of Rights.
Some things simply do have to be important. And sometimes, we really do have to show that it matters. Happy Fourth of July!
We are one world – One Family. We are Americans – We are Global Citizens.
We are the Survivors – We are the Strong who have come through wars, disease, famine and pestilence to stand here today. We are the ones entitled to freedom and the rights guaranteed by our US Constitution. We are equal in the sight of God and equal with every other person in the world. We are the equals of every other living human being and every other citizen.
We are legally, ethically and morally entitled to equality and full equal rights. We are no more sinners than anyone else. We are no less human or deserving than anyone else. Denying our equal rights is to abrogate and deny the validity of our US Constitution, our Bill of Rights and to show contempt for every drop of blood spilled to protect them.
We will no longer be slaves to hate mongering ideologies and beliefs You will not mow us down or simply tolerate us. We deserve respect, acceptance and love for we ARE just like you
We are Americans. We are global citizens. We are equal to you in every respect. We are one family. We are one world. We are citizens of one America – not of two or three, not second class citizens, nor even less as your beliefs insist, and certainly, NOT less than you in any way.
Your HATE IS THE ENEMY of all that is good and decent – not us and not our choices and lifestyles, our way of conducting our lives and our differences from you. Hatred and intolerance based on ideologies and beliefs are the basis of evil and actions of evil – not us, not our lifestyles.
We have the right to be here. Our lives are not less valuable than yours. We are the Survivors.- We are Diverse and that diversity is the strength and power of America, of the world and of the human race. We bring a strength, character and diversity of strength that you could never have.
Nature did not make one flower of a single kind, shape and color. Nor would there be flowers of any kind today, if it had. Nature by great creative force made billions of diverse types of every single plant and being, of every cell and molecule,.of every type and kind of everything created.
That is because diversity is power and diversity is strength. Diversity supports thriving and greater survival while supporting optimum, successful lives of all species by its very nature.
Diversity, NOT sameness, produces the greater strength and engages a higher survival rate with thriving communities for all to be enhanced and successful
Nature does it this way. Perhaps God designed it this way. What neither designed, is the destitution of mind that forces all to be the same or for their rights and freedoms to be forfeit or denied to them, to be denied opportunities to thrive and succeed, to be isolated and enslaved.
These porcelain plates I designed are available on Zazzle so that you can customize them with your family name, this year or another year of special commemoration and use them to hang on the wall as collectibles and family commemoration plates. Simply use the template field to change my family name and this year, to whatever you want with your family name. Wonderfully pretty.
I’ve been creating nearly every day since I was a kid and that is over 50 years. I’ve created in numerous ways in a range that moves from art to problem-solving to inventing, creating music, sculpting and painting to writing and doing various computer / online based projects.
“It is better to make the effort to move forward and release the flow of ideas to work with them and do things creatively, create things and invent and write and make – I definitely know that by experience.” – cricketdiane, 2018 ** You can find more of my art and designs here –
I’ve been designing a long time and studying design even longer across the years of my life. Noticeably absent from wonderful popular trends most often in America, is color – bright, vibrant, beautiful diversity of color.
So, I got to thinking about that. What is it about color that very often causes it to socially fall out of favor or become muted, greyed out or darkened versions in popular use? What causes vibrant color to not be commonplace among fashions people wear or want in their homes in American culture?
What about diversity and intensity of color in American social context says something undesirable about color to the point of an ever-present tendency toward milktoast neutrals, whites, bland and homogenized looks? What does that?
For a stretch of mental exercise, and not necessarily rational nor factually based – I’ve been thinking about what I’ve seen in America across designs and trends in my lifetime. And I’m conjecturing some purely subjective based thoughts about it.
Across many cultures and races, vibrant color is part of their world, part of their expression of identity. Is it racially motivated to steer clear of vibrant and expressive colors? Is it to turn away from those “lesser classes” who are allegedly not sophisticated enough to want a muted, neutral or greyed down palette?
Rich enough to wear white, light grey, tan and muted pastels or to own a white couch because it says you don’t work, don’t get dirty, can afford someone else to clean it and are rich enough to do so? Is it classism and class defining to live in and wear designs that are within a strict limited palette that can’t get dirty without being totally ruined? Is it really sophistication to live in an environment where you don’t sit, wear clothing you can’t live in and support color palettes that aren’t appropriate for any real engaged lifestyle?
Houses that are painted brightly in the US are harassed. criticized and sued by homeowners associations and local jurisdictions, no matter how beautifully they are done. Why is that? What happened to freedom of expression and the freedom to express identity through style and color choices, whether in house colors or choices of landscaping with flowers of color rather than only hedges and trees, or in choices of clothing colors and the colors of furnishings? Is it really better for every house to be of a drab grey, tan, dirty white and black shutters variety that look dismal?
Colorful house in Christiania commune, Copenhagen – Credit: Anna Gorin, Getty Images
There are modern houses with modern furnishings that are kept streamlined in having not one thing where it is visible, no vibrant color – unless grey or tan are considered colors, and where not one person may have ever sat for longer than ten minutes, though people do live there. And are they to determine for everyone else what a color palette of sophistication should be when that appears to be the least qualified space as a living environment to qualify for anything but a photograph?
Tribal and folk arts offer vibrant colors as part of their acceptable palette and are well loved by people everywhere despite not being born into that culture. In some cities and towns, bright vibrant colors define each home individually with an overall look that is stunning and beautiful with a happy, joyous feel to its place. Why is that not an acceptable practice in America – not in any subdivision, not in any city or town, not in any of NYC’s many boroughs despite its cultural “acceptance of diversity”?
I hate creating because the payoff is long and frustrating. Most of the time I am screaming and pulling my hair out. No Lie,Many time I have woken up my household from a full on meltdown of screaming I hate you at a painting or art project
Its not that I don’t enjoy seeing the final Project light people’s faces up or the payout, but getting there is a lot of blood, sweat, tears and screams. Sometimes its because you can’t get it to do what you want when you want it how you want it. sometimes it’s the simple inspirational that escapes me
. Still One must be crazy to be an artist. Not because the payout can be less than the pain put into it. But because you are then expected to turn around and Do it all over again and makes some WONDERFUL. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Still pluck away at what you need to create and make. Because as an Artist you are expected to make something that is thought provoking, pleasing, inspirational, or space changing. As An Artist you want to bring the viewer into what you were or are feeling when you made the piece. Usually without the screaming of course. But not always.
Still in the dead of night while I lay awake, obsessing over my latest project. One must wonder – WHY AM I AN ARTIST? I Hate it most days, and other days I enjoy it so much I have paint on my nose and in my hair. Maybe because I am better at art then I was anything else. Maybe I am an artist because who else can take the UGLY from everyday, and make it inspirational. Maybe I am an artist because I am a glutton for pain and punishment. I don’t know, Honestly. But I am an Artist and today I am making something wonderful – Once I am done screaming out my frustration. Come check out some of my things today.
Cosmic Essence Bold Complex Modern Art Pillow by CricketDiane
When Paul Ingrisano trademarked the mathematical symbol π (pi) with a period and then had his lawyer send cease and desist letters, there were a lot of immediate responses by news articles, blogs and comments from the public about it. About a week ago, when the online print on demand publisher, Zazzle (and possibly CafePress as well) decided to pull down products independently designed with the pi symbol, they were responding to this letter sent by Ingrisano’s attorney, Ronald Millet –
“Ingrisano’s federal registration of this trademark provides him with certain proprietary rights. This includes the right to restrict the use of the trademark, or a confusingly similar trademark, in association with confusingly similar products or services. The Lanham Act (the U.S. Trademark Act) also provides numerous remedies for trademark infringement and dilution, including, but not limited to, preliminary and permanent injunctive relief, money, damages, a defendant’s profits, provisions for the destruction or confiscation of infringing products and promotional materials, and where intentional infringement is shown (as would be the case here), attorneys’ fees and possible treble money damages.”
In 2006, there was a case brought in Florida Federal court against 52 defendants using the words, sweet pea in their design by a person who had been issued a trademark with a simple script of the words, sweet pea followed by a period. Because there had been no letters sent demanding to “cease and desist” before making the court filing, the case was dismissed. The intention in that case was for each of the defendants to pay a $5,000 fee to the new owner of the trademark for the words, sweet pea followed by a period and the generic quality of that trademark is very similar to the one for pi followed by a period, in fact.
Here is the page describing the logos of the sweet peas that were taken to court and on the right side of the page is the logo trademark in question whose owner took them to court intending to take all profits made from sales plus damages – or a $5,000 settlement fee toward their possible obligation to the new trademark holder plus whatever else the court may have awarded if it had gone forward –
In January of 2006, attorney Alexander E. Barthet of Miami, Florida on behalf of his clothing company client Sweet Pea Limited, Inc. went to Federal District Court in Florida and filed a complaint claiming that 52 companies or individuals located throughout the United States were violating their trademark.
The clothing company’s lawsuit contends that using the commonly used words “Sweet Pea” in any form — not just their stylized version — on any article of clothing is in violation of their trademark rights and therefore they are entitled to millions of dollars in damages. Most of the defendants are creating original designs using the words “Sweet Pea” graphically on T-shirts and children’s clothing.
Notably missing from the list are any large defendants. All the companies being sued are one-person businesses. (etc.)
Going back to the pi with a period trademarked by Ingrisano – his and his attorney’s intention is clearly stated in the letter they sent to Zazzle demanding them to account for every design sold with the pi used in the design, to account for any and all profits that may have resulted from those designs, to submit to (and ultimately pay for) an independent audit of those sales and profits, AND to be prepared to remit any and all of those profits to Ingrisano and his attorney along with possibly treble damages for having allowed the use of these designs, despite many of them having no relational meaning to his trademarked design.
That is the point. People are angry about this because it demands money and damages to be given to Ingrisano that he neither earned nor had any right to acquire. And, he and his attorney are using a trademark law intended for the protection of genuine, distinctive and original intellectual properties used as trademarks, in order to do it unfairly and without cause. They are claiming a loss of revenues and a dilution of his trademark, when in fact, that trademark is not an original, distinctive nor unique mark and neither is it in use in a manner that is distinctive, original, novel or unique. That is the problem. That goes to the heart of the real issue here.
It is easy enough to drop the subject now that Zazzle has re-instated independent designers’ and artists’ copyrighted designs to their online market platform, but the case isn’t actually over because inherent in the demands shown in the letter sent by Ingrisano’s attorney, Ronald Millet are the terms they had intended, and likely will continue to pursue against any and all uses of pi that they perceive may have profited. This is partly evidenced by another trademark filed by Ingrisano claiming the symbol I<3 which is commonly used around the internet and already found on a variety of products including apparel, tshirts, sportswear, sweatshirts and other things he has listed for it in the trademark application.
People are angry about the symbol pi with a dot trademark because Ingrisano and his attorney, Millet are working to steal profits from small and micro business owners, independent artists and designers, as well as from online print on demand companies which they did not work for, did not create, did not work to get and did not have any right to take.
The process seems to be –
Trademark the most generic, commonly used symbol or group of words.
Set precedent by forcing all current and previous users of that symbol or group of words to “cease and desist” using them along with accounting for all uses and profits from all uses in order to remit them to the new trademark holder
Take all previously made profits from sales and which resulted from promotions based upon that symbol or group of words, including those pre-dating the holders registration.
Require an independent auditor to be given access to all internal and electronic sales data concerning those which ever held or currently held that symbol, and similar symbol, or that group of words and any similar group of words which could be confused to be that group of words.
File court orders and cases to take all profits from any and all sales of any and all products which contained any part of that symbol, any with that symbol, any part of that trademark symbol group and any use of those words both in that group combination plus anything similar.
Demand that the court award treble damages and attorneys’ fees, court costs, independent auditing costs, plus all sales amounts and profits made from those sales of products containing anything similar to that trademark even if that trademark doesn’t apply in that context.
At the time when Ingrisano filed the trademark on November 21, 2012, a trademark for pi had already been issued very recently to a cigar company for the symbol pi. That trademark was issued on October 9, 2012.
To have many of the articles about this in one place, here is a list of blogs, news articles and more information links about the pi followed by a dot trademark, its influence and demands on Zazzle (and possibly CafePress) along with basic information about trademark laws affecting it –
A trademark is a word, phrase, or logo that identifies the source of goods or services. Trademark law protects a business’ commercial identity or brand by discouraging other businesses from adopting a name or logo that is “confusingly similar” to an existing trademark. The goal is to allow consumers to easily identify the producers of goods and services and avoid confusion.
U.S. Trademark Law is mainly governed by the Lanham Act. “Common Law” trademark rights are acquired automatically when a business uses a name or logo in commerce, and are enforceable in state courts. Marks registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office are given a higher degree of protection in federal courts than unregistered marks – both registered and unregistered trademarks are granted some degree of federal protection under the Lanham Act 43(a).
About the treble damages component of the Lanham Act that Ingrisano and his attorney, Ronald Millet are attempting to claim against Zazzle, CafePress and all other users of the pi symbol in any design –
It is interesting (though not surprising) that there is little, if any, actual use of his registered Pi mark given that it issued earlier this year (January 2014). A review of the prosecution history for Paul Ingrisano’s trademark application raises questions.
One question designers raised was how could someone own a trademark to a generic mathematical symbol … or, more often than not, they put it in the affirmative: the pi symbol cannot be a trademark.
The notion that the pi symbol (or any universal symbol) cannot be a trademark is wrong. It can be (even on its own without other word or design elements). The U.S. Trademark Office (USPTO) devotes an entire section of its manual for examining procedure to “Universal Symbols in Marks.” See TMEP Section 1202.17et al.
This excerpt from the article link above it goes on to describe some common symbols used as trademarks having been issued those registrations at some point.
Apparently the artist and his supporters in Brooklyn simply do not get why people are angry that Ingrisano and his attorney attempted to monopolize all uses of the symbol pi in any design, to steal all profits made from any sales of any design with pi on it and to receive treble damages for those uses on top of that.