The Kvetching Board trademarked, wanna b--ch about it?

UNC students’ complaints are now protected by United States law.

The Kvetching Board, The Daily Tar Heel’s popular Friday feature, recently became a trademarked intellectual property of the paper.

Kevin Schwartz, general manager of the DTH, said the feature’s widespread popularity necessitated its trademark.

Inside the Kvetching Board

Callie Bost, the DTH’s associate opinion editor, chooses the kvetches each week.

She selects 20 to 25 kvetches from about 100 submissions each week.

Kvetches that don’t make the final cut are often too long, too serious or grammatically incorrect, she said, adding that she rarely discriminates based on content or profanity.

“We don’t want too much censorship,” Bost said.

“Sometimes I’m embarrassed to show it to my parents.”

“It might be the most popular Daily Tar Heel feature ever, and we want to make sure it doesn’t get co-opted. We invented it,” Schwartz said.

The feature first appeared in the paper in 2006 under then-editor-in-chief Joe Schwartz and assistant features editor Julie Turkewitz when the paper received a high volume of complaint letters.

The board soon took off, becoming a recognized feature among the University community.

“It’s grown into a life of its own,” Kevin Schwartz said.

He said the paper was not concerned with any one particular party stealing its intellectual property, but the DTH wanted to secure ownership.

“I thought it was such a clever idea, and I love when people can’t pronounce it. It’s not a silent ‘k,’” he said.

Kevin Schwartz said the paper filed for the trademark about one year ago through a legal clinic of the N.C. Central University School of Law.

The student-operated service conducted a worldwide search to ensure no other institution also circulated a kvetching board before securing the rights.

Joe Schwartz said the feature has merits beyond just entertainment.

“If people can pick up a paper to look at a kvetch, and then see what’s going on in Town Hall or South Building by extension of that, it creates a great gateway that actually has some merit in promoting journalism,” he said.

Deborah Gerhardt, assistant professor of law at UNC who specializes in trademark law, said a trademarked feature is an effective way to foster a memorable identity.

“Having a unique trademark that brings people to your paper can be incredibly valuable.”

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