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Atlanta Beltline offers official rebuttal to bullying claims

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ABI issues statement regarding recent press

Beltline officials want you to know they’re just trying to protect their sanctified name, y’all.

In a statement published Tuesday, Atlanta Beltline Inc. responded to allegations that the management group was "bullying citizens or businesses," regarding use of the name on blogs and businesses.

In the release, ABI specifically mentioned the situation regarding Jessie Fream and her Facebook group "Humans of the Beltline."

"ABI has at no time sent a cease and desist letter to its owner, Ms. Fream, nor are we involved in any litigation against Ms. Fream," it reads. "In fact, we reached out to her personally to make her aware that she was using a registered trademark. We have not heard back from Ms. Fream about potential alternatives to using the mark and would welcome continuing the conversation."

Back in 2014, Scoutmob founder Michael Tavani met similar resistance (actually, he did find a cease-and-desist letter on his doorstep) after deciding to name his design-focused incubator "Beltline & Co." He changed the company name a few days later.

The gist of ABI’s official rebuttal is this: The name is for the public good and shouldn’t be used for personal or commercial purposes because it can "create the mistaken impression" that there’s an affiliation with the actual Beltline.

"We want to assure the public and especially the residents and supporters of the Atlanta Beltline that we appreciate the support and the civic pride you all take in the Atlanta Beltline. We respect your right to freedom of speech and expression about the Atlanta Beltline and in no way want to infringe on your right to free expression."

The management group asked for those who do decide to use the name — who are still undeterred despite having heard all this — to contact ABI first "so that we can discuss their request to use the name and perhaps be considered for a license agreement."

ABI has apparently "addressed and resolved and/or are currently addressing" more than 200 unauthorized uses of the trademark.

They’ve spent $350,000 in legal fees "protecting the brand" — one half of which was "TO DEFEND OR PROTECT ABI’S right to use its own name ..." (their use of all caps, FYI).

"We want everyone to know," reads the statement, "that our intent and commitment is always to protect the Atlanta Beltline in all its forms for the benefit of everyone so that everyone can continue to enjoy its many benefits and share in the civic pride that surrounds it."

Kind of crazy it's come to this, eh?