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Who's the Angriest Asian? Trademark Feud Leaves Community Torn

A legal dispute has emerged between two of Asian America’s leading blogging figures, one that has confused and saddened portions of the Asian-American community, and has highlighted the growing clout and economic interests such properties wield in the digital age.Getty Images file

A legal dispute has emerged between two of Asian America’s leading blogging figures, one that has confused and saddened portions of the Asian-American community, and has highlighted the growing clout and economic interests such properties wield in the digital age.

Lela Lee created the “Angry Little Asian Girl” comic strip in the early days of the Asian-American blogging scene, tapping into a nascent emotional tone that resonated amongst Asian-American activists and artists across the internet. Lee claims that Phil Yu, the man behind the popular Angry Asian Man blog, has encroached on her intellectual property with his expanding media efforts and the monetization of his blog.

While the legal wrangling continues, the impact on the Asian-American media scene has been immediate. On her blog, writer Jenn Fang crafted a lengthy analysis of the case Lee has against Yu, ending with a somber note. "What saddens me," she wrote, "is that two titans of Asian America have come to blows over who has exclusive rights to call themselves an 'Angry Asian.'"

Culture critic Jeff Yang (and father of Hudson Yang, star of the ABC hit show "Fresh off the Boat") took to Medium to express his concern about how the dispute might affect strides made by Asian Americans in media, calling the disagreement, “deeply damaging…to the larger, deeply interconnected community to which we belong."

The dispute is ongoing, and blog posts previously posted by both sides have been deleted as negotiations continue.

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