Earlier this month, superstar entrepreneur Sophia Amoruso announced she had officially separated from Nasty Gal, the brand she founded in 2006 (which recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy). But the media maven is hanging onto her other brand, Girlboss, and on Tuesday she made another, more stern statement: if you use the term Girlboss to promote your own business, she’ll take legal action.
On Instagram, Amoruso — who once made it onto Forbes’s list of America’s Richest Self-Made Women — posted a graphic with the message, “If you make products, hold events, or produce media with the word Girlboss on it, you gotta stop. It’s gonna get expensive for me and annoying for you. Thank you.” She cheekily included emojis in an attempt to lighten the tone.
Amoruso first started using the term when her autobiography, #GIRLBOSS, was published in 2014 and became a New York Times bestseller. She also maintains a lifestyle website, hosts a podcast, and has sold rights to Netflix to develop a TV series using the wildly popular buzzword.
Droves of ambitious young women who look up to Amoruso have taken to the word, and it’s ubiquitous in the world of female entrepreneurs — and beyond.
That ubiquity is more than likely what spurred Amoruso to publicly lay claim to the term — but some Instagram users weren’t having it. “Phrases/ keywords/ hashtags are all fair game once you put yourself out there no? Gratitude instead of attitude!,” wrote one commenter. “How can you own the term Girlboss? People having been saying it for years and years. You aren’t the only Girlboss in the world. You set up a clothing company not cured cancer. Such a shame when fame and greed become you,” wrote another.
When one commenter suggested, “Oh brother it’s not your word, you didn’t invent it. Must you be so predictably out of touch with your audience,” Amoruso stepped in to reply, “actually I did.” And while the accuracy of that assertion can’t be confirmed, Amoruso’s original message absolutely holds water.
Amoruso does indeed have two official trademarks on the term “Girlboss” — one protects against copycats of her lifestyle website, and the other protects usage of the word in the context of business, covering just about every form of media, from films and television programs to print materials, digital entities, and social media brands “featuring women’s empowerment, business, entrepreneurship, small business, lifestyle, fitness, health, women’s issues, travel, fashion, work, and self-help.” Suffice to say, she’s got the word covered.
But fear not, Girlboss nation: that doesn’t mean you can’t casually use the term in your Instagram bio or hashtag it in your captions. In fact, Amoruso doesn’t have the hashtag trademarked, but someone else does. In other words, you can’t use the term for profit, or, as Amoruso wrote in her caption, “you can use the term and the hashtag, just not in commerce. Trademark 101, you’ll find yourself here someday if you haven’t already,” adding, “Delivered with utmost gratitude.”
Or, as one Instagram fan wrote, “I believe she means if you produce a product and name it “Girlboss hair spray ” or hold a radio show/tv / event and name it “Girlboss life” then u are using the copyrighted Girlboss trade mark . Hash tags are still fair game,” to which Amoruso — who is actively addressing fans’ comments in the thread — replied a resounding, “yes!”.
Of course, the large majority of Amoruso’s followers cheered her on for sticking up for what is hers. “Preach!!!: wrote one commenter, while another added, “Hahaha this is amazing! You go girl- let them know! This is why you’re my role model!”.
And to the commenters who felt the need to accuse Amoruso of being rude, one Instagrammer rebutted, “Since when did protecting your creativity, company and personal work become associated with having an attitude problem? @sophiaamoruso this post is just one of the reasons why you are thee ORIGINAL Girlboss!”
Read more from Yahoo Style + Beauty:
- 10 New Body-Positive Plus-Size Models to Follow Now
- Yes, ‘Beauty and the Beast’ Merch Can Be Fashionable … or Beastly
- PETA to Buy Stock in Canada Goose to Protest Its Use Of Fur