In May of last year, we did a story on Freecycle, the spontaneously organized, voluntary, web-based network devoted to enabling people to give stuff away rather than throw it away.

Then in May of this year, we wrote another story, about Freecycle and its growing pains. On the one hand there was a fight to obtain the trademark to the Freecycle name. On the other hand there was controversy about a $130,000 sponsorship from Waste Management, Inc., the largest garbage company in the U.S.

Well, it appears the former fight has been won and the latter money is being put to good use.

Today we received a letter from "media relations" at Freecycle:

We are … making a concerted effort to reach out to all media that have run a story on Freecycle™ in order to educate them as to the appropriate usage of the trademark-protected term "Freecycle." As you can imagine, protecting such name as a small nonprofit is no mean feat.

Don’t we know it. Our media relations department is working 20 hour days!

In order to maintain the concept of one which stands solely for the integrity of a nonprofit public commons we must keep the mark from becoming merely descriptive or generic.

Again, here at Grist™, we understand. We too maintain the concept of one which stands solely for the integrity of that which the public commons. Sometimes twice.

Common misuses include adapting the mark as a noun such as the phrase "freecycler." The appropriate usage would be to say "Freecycle member" (note also the use of capitalization of the mark). The first use of the phrase should be followed by a superscript TM. If you use the total organizational name, it is appropriate to add the superscript TM after the entire name: "The Freecycle Network™."

As a grister Grist™ Employee, this speaks to the very heart of what I hold dear about The Grist™ Family of Media Publications™: our dedication to the purity and exclusivity of our brand.

Another common mistake is to use the mark as a verb as in "freecycling" or "to freecycle" as opposed to the correct usage: "posting and item to the local Freecycle group."

"Posting and item"? Well, what the heck — we Grist™ Employees are not going to go around telling you freecyclers Freecycle™ members how to write. What do we know?

Thank you again for your wonderful coverage. You may be interested to know that we will be launching an entirely new Web site in the coming six months which shall be free from Yahoo groups and provide a new and wonderful home to the now 1.5 million Freecycle members in over 50 countries! Stay tuned!

We shall be tuned! Grist can’t wait to provide you more free™ coverage as you expand your establishment while staying close — so close — to the grassroots™.