Opinion and Response

May 01, 2003 9:30 PM  By

‘Boss’ Editorial Is Cool Beans

I just wanted to take a minute to compliment you on the tenor and timbre of your March editor’s page essay (“…Same as the Old Boss?”). I think it shows real courage to speak your mind so freely and clearly in an industry forum.

I don’t often write letters of this nature, but your voice, as expressed in your writing, is very strong. I say “bravo!” to you.
Michael Utter executive manager, Documounts @ Frame Central, catalog division, Northwest Framing

A Divine Footnote

Your January cover article (“Divine Intervention”) presents an excellent explanation of the lawsuits filed by Divine against a number of retailers and catalogers conducting business on the Internet.

There is, however, a very interesting detail that was not discussed. Knowledgeable observers suggest that most small and midsize companies that have not themselves developed proprietary technology to power their Websites are indemnified from liability arising as a result of alleged infringement of Divine patents. Such companies are immune from patient infringement claims because their third-party technology vendors (software developers and service providers alike) are by contractual obligation and business convention responsible for adhering to relevant intellectual property laws.

Merchants are under no legal obligation to license Divine’s patents. But to prevent a possible court-imposed interruption of their Website operations (should Divine launch legal actions against their technology provider), merchants can quickly transition to the patent-compliant technologies of Companies such as Intershop, ePages, MacroMedia Live or available through service providers such as Ecofabric.
Roman Martynenko chief financial officer, Ecofabric

Delving Deeper into Divine Story

The articles in Catalog Age are very well written and informative. Regarding the article on a company called Divine: I actually called to speak to the writer, Mark Del Franco, about the story. Very rarely do I ever call a reporter for news. I found the information helpful and pertinent to our company and will be interested in hearing how the case is progressing. Thank you also for bringing the news to us each week with your e-newsletter.
Robin Sherwood president, Frecklefarm

Editor’s note: Divine filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Feb. 25 and was expected to sell off its assets to pay creditors. It was not clear at press time what would happen to the company’s Internet patents.

Also Turning 20

Catalog Age is in good company! Below are some catalogs that, like Catalog Age, launched in 1983:

American Spoon Foods
Ballard Designs
Bridge City Tool Works
Chadwick’s of Boston
The Company Store
Doctors Foster & Smith
Gardener’s Supply Co.
Hanna Andersson
Hold Everything
Road Runner Sports
J. Crew

Catalog Gag Gift Is Da Bomb for California Courthouse

Many consumers have personal items shipped to their place of work, but a Southern California judge’s catalog delivery in March caused a bomb scare. According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, a superior court judge in Vista, CA, had ordered from a gifts cataloger a $27.50 grenade-shape paperweight with a number hanging from its pin and a sign on its base that reads “Free Legal Advice. Take a Number.” The unnamed cataloger was supposed to send the order to the judge’s personal post office box; instead, the grenade arrived at the courthouse via United Parcel Service and went through the X-ray machine, causing a sheriff’s deputy to evacuate 250 people for about an hour. The gag grenade, which the judge reportedly bought to use as a gift for an industry meeting, was taken away by a bomb-squad deputy. Too bad; we bet it would have been met with explosive laughter at the local Bar Association presentation.

No Props for Pottery Barn Pillow

A Catalog Age staffer received Pottery Barn’s Early Spring 2003 catalog and called March 1 to place an order. But alas, the kindly Pottery Barn rep who took the call said (while trying not to laugh) that the couch pillow shown on the back cover was not for sale but merely a prop. The staffer was disappointed — and surprised — since the oversize floral-on-black pillow was set dead in the middle of the product photo; it also carried through the black-and-white and flowers theme started on the front cover. About a month later, the staffer happened into her local Pottery Barn store, and lo and behold there was the pillow! As it turned out, the cushion had appeared in the cataloger’s Spring 2003 edition — which the staffer had received a few weeks after the Early Spring book but did not bother to look at. The staffer did end up buying the pillow — from the store — but what she’d really like to do is whack Pottery Barn over the head with it.

This month in Catalog Age…

Catalog Age marks its 20th anniversary this year. To celebrate, each month we’ll be looking back at some notable headlines from issues past:

  • Airline Videos to Follow in Footsteps of Co-op catalogs (May 1987)
  • Do customers Really Know Best? (May 1991)
  • Is the USPS Running Scared? (May 1992)
  • Mailers Gravitate to Gravure (May 1993)
  • Ooh La La — Luxury Is Back (May 1998)

CONTACT US … or visit us on the Web at www.CatalogAgemag.com

Email mweinstein@primediabusiness.com

Phone 203-358-9900

Letter PO Box 4242, Stamford, CT 06907-0242

Fax 203-358-5823