'Spare Rib' founders threaten legal action over magazine relaunch

Name is trademarked as original supporters talk of 'a sense of betrayal'

When the relaunch of the feminist magazine Spare Rib was announced in April, its new editor promised it would “feel like a girls’ club” and offer “top tips on keeping our female friends”.

But the new look publication has descended into in-fighting before even hitting the shelves, after the founders of the original magazine became worried that the new incarnation would not do it justice and trademarked the Spare Rib name.

Charlotte Raven, the writer behind the new project, had hoped to relaunch the magazine by this autumn. But she has emailed supporters saying that despite initial support from Rosie Boycott and Marsha Rowe, she had suddenly been threatened with legal action.

“On 3 June, 20 years after Spare Rib’s closure, Marsha applied to trademark the name, which we only found out through our lawyers,” she wrote. “The biggest area of conflict has been over our vision for Spare Rib to be more than just a magazine, but also a grass-roots movement.”

Raven said that instead of “exhausting precious financial resources on legal fees”, the magazine would simply be renamed to avoid starting on an “ugly and entirely wrong note”. The Spare Rib website has now opened a naming bee, asking for suggestions for a new title from readers. By last night, more than 200 had been sent in, including “Riberation” and “Spare McRib”.

Boycott and Rowe, whose magazine closed in 1993 after a 21-year run, have had concerns about the relaunch since April, when it was announced without their prior consent. “This was the magazine that I had co-founded. I was flabbergasted,” said Rowe.

“Old Spare Ribbers were saying that they were astounded, shocked. They expressed a sense of betrayal, as well as of some interest and hopefulness about a revival.”

An email from a former Spare Rib writer forwarded to The Independent read: “If someone wants to relaunch a magazine that already has a history and a following, then it is necessary to talk to the people who launched it in the first place. You cannot just walk into someone’s house, open their wardrobe and say, ‘You aren’t wearing these any more I think I will have them!’” Rowe and Boycott, who is a former editor of The Independent, agreed to meet Raven in May. The pair said they were “very enthusiastic” about the launch and were making preparations to license the name to her as long as the project had a “viable infrastructure” and “the integrity and legacy of the name could be continued”.

But two main areas of discord emerged. Raven wants Spare Rib to be a grassroots movement “with local groups and user-generated content,” but Rowe said that while the magazine grew with the women’s liberation movement and became identified as its public face, it “was not synonymous” with it.

A spokeswoman for Spare Rib said: “Marsha and Rosie’s preference for only a magazine meant they also envisaged some parts of the business plan differently.”

This plan – to provide a free-to-access website but offer different levels of “affordable” membership – rankled with the founders. “Charlotte has jokily suggested ideas: that women can forego something such as waxing in order to pay to become a member,” Rowe said.

“My question is that today there are many women who cannot possibly afford waxing, let alone the amount being asked as the lowest level of monthly membership fee.”

Raven previously said the first 300 people to donate £100 would get a year’s subscription, the status of a founder member and access to an exclusive founders event. But Boycott and Rowe’s expressed concern that money was being crowd-funded on the promise of a magazine that Raven did not yet have the funds for.

When asked whether the arguments reflected badly on the “sisterhood”, Spare Rib’s new incarnation said that though disagreements are not “inherently bad”, it was “difficult to align when the end vision is one that cannot be agreed upon”.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Ashdown Group: Digital Marketing Executive - West London - £35,000

£28000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A luxury fashion retailer based in W...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer / Front-End Designer - City of London

£27000 - £33000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Front-End Devel...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Ledger & Credit Control Assistant

£14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Ledger & Credit Control...

Recruitment Genius: Junior PHP Web Developer

£16000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable