Jessie Fream created the “Humans of the Atlanta Beltline” Facebook group to showcase photos and stories of people using the city’s popular multi-use trail.
But Atlanta BeltLine Inc., which oversees the project, contacted her and asked her to stop using the word “Beltline,” which is trademarked. It’s not the first time ABI has contacted a business about using the Beltline name. Atlanta Loop was initially conceived as “The Beltline News” before we received a letter from ABI’s attorney.
Fream never received anything from an ABI attorney, but she talked to other attorneys who told her a fight over the use of the name would likely cost thousands of dollars. So she came up with a new name instead.
She’s now calling it the Heartline and hoping other people will join her.
“Basically the Beltline is one big ole’ heart around Atlanta,” she said.
In another rebuke to ABI, she has made the logo available for anyone to use.
“We created it so it can be easily shared and easily recreated,” she said.
Briefly, her column ran on Atlanta Loop as “Humans of the Glorified Sidewalk,” but that wasn’t quite as catchy.
Fream has started a new website to promote her work and the new name, Jessiefream.com. There people can see the re-christened “Humans of the Atlanta Heartline” feature.
She said ABI hasn’t raised any objections to her efforts to change the way people refer to the trail.
“I haven’t even talked to them about it,” she said.
The organization’s attitude toward the use of the Beltline name is negatively affecting people who live and work there, she said. An investigation by Atlanta Loop found that ABI has been inconsistent about how it enforces its trademark, and multiple businesses have used the name without licensing agreements with the organization.
But ABI has spent hundreds of thousands to defend its trademark in court, a figure that’s enough to scare any person or small business owner inclined to pick a fight over the name.
“It’s hindering the development of the actual Beltline itself. This will help people move along,” she said. “It’s a solution in the form of a new name.”
More than anything, Fream said, she wants so share her affection for the Heartline, or whatever you want to call it.
“What I’m doing is joyful,” she said. “It creates so much joy in me and I want to share that.”