This is not PieLab


—–UPDATE—– After a lovely conversation with John of Project M, the founder of PieLab in Greensboro, AL, he generously offered to let me keep using the name. I’m very grateful to have his support.


I have received a couple of angry messages since starting my Kickstarter Project about my name being the same as a very successful PieLab in Greensboro, AL. I have to tell you, it makes me sick in my heart. When I was going through the process of brainstorming names, I kept coming back to pieLab because is was simple, short, and hinted at the game strategy aspect of the cart. I had several names such as Wonder Pie Spot, Pookie Pie, and Grumble Bunny, but none of them communicated that this wasn’t just a cart where you went up and ordered and everything was as usual. My biggest fear was that there was a well-known co-working space in town called PIE (Portland Incubator Experiment). Well, what can I do about that? They decided to name their tech space after my delicious treat. Nothing to be done. My name will have “pie” in it somewhere.

When I decided to go with the name pieLab, I went to register the name and discovered that it was already taken. I had never heard of the PieLab from 3000 miles away. I went and had a look at the site. I saw their essence as being a collaborative of graphic designers where to community is invited in to share ideas. I watched their video where they cut up a pie and pour some coffee. I decided we were not similar enough to be a problem and registered @pieLabPDX.

With the negative comments, I’ve gone back through the site to discover whether we really are TOO similar. I downloaded the press release. I read the press coverage. There was a lot I didn’t learn about the project in my initial run through. It’s grown into training people to be chefs and work in retail. They have outreach to youth. It’s an amazing program. I didn’t realize how thoroughly it had been covered by GOOD, ID Magazine, Fast Company, etc. People in their community have obviously been touched by their efforts.

A lot of people love their PieLab in Greensboro, AL. I can see how they would be upset for anyone to threaten the organization that’s done so much good.

If I had to distill them down into three words they would be community development, graphic design, and pie.

We have that last characteristic in common, it is true. But I’m not inviting collaborators and it’s not a community space. I’m not training others or doing youth development. And yes, I do graphic design occasionally as that is my background, but this cart is not about visual design.

My entire reason for building this is that I’m fascinated by game strategy and behavioral economics and want a way to tweak every possible subtlety of the process of selecting and paying for a humble piece of pie. The pie is the bait for my human subject rat maze experiment. I don’t see any hint of this in their project.

I am unabashedly copying an idea, without a doubt. This is a recreation of a mystery cafe as told by Cabel Sasser as I have made clear from the very beginning.

For goodness sakes, if I was going to straight copy them, at least I’d have the good sense to change the name if I was trying to pull the wool over everyone’s eyes.

I feel like pieLab is a rather obvious name. I doubt Barista coffee would be surprised to find that there is another clever coffee house out there sharing their name. I could see that it would be a big problem if another one opened up around here. States protect names within each state for good reason. PieLab is not trademarked as far as I my research shows.

So what to do now? The name was sincerely a coincidence. I certainly did not anticipate this blow back and don’t wish to cause undue harm to their brand. It’s not like I’m so far into the project that I can’t redirect. I am loathe to do anything until the Kickstarter project is finished if only because I just cannot face reworking the stop motion video, and I don’t want to risk losing momentum. Thoughts?

UPDATE ————-

To John (leader of Project M PieLab in Greensboro, AL,

I can see that there are good folks on your side who love you and have come out swinging to defend your work.

I offer my sincerest apologies. I had not heard of your work before I conceived the name. I knew you existed when I registered the twitter account, yes.

I didn’t realize how much recognition you’d received. If I had, I wouldn’t have gone forward with the name.

This food cart is a small, quick project for me in my spare time. I have full time job plus a handful of other side projects. I just wanted to make a decision and move the project forward. I didn’t give it the full due diligence.

Sometimes you make a quick decision and it’s wrong.

I will change the name. Please grant me a little time to recollect myself, find and properly research a new name.

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