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Settlement offer for Franklin Veaux

September 13, 2022
A bunch of green grapes hanging on a vine in Eve's garden

Last night I sent a settlement proposal to Franklin Veaux in an attempt to end our lawsuit and resolve our remaining affairs. This is at least the sixth settlement offer I’ve sent to him in the 4.5 years since we’ve broken up, and knowing a little about these is important to understanding how we ended up where we are now. Every one of my proposals, though they’ve differed in details, has been driven by one overriding goal: separating me from Franklin.

In February 2021 we finally signed a settlement agreement. The last step in implementing that agreement was to put our shared copyrights into a trust, which would have been the last step in separating us. For various reasons, we did not reach agreement by the deadline on how to execute this final step.

An expert in trusts I spoke to told me that with as much conflict as there was between us, the only way to truly separate us would be a full buyout of the copyrights. So I sent an offer of a full buyout, based on the value of past royalties. There was a counteroffer, an attempt at mediation, more conflict and, while consulting with several IP experts, I was advised to try to buy out the whole brand as the only way to fully separate us and avoid further conflict. My next offer, for nearly twice the original amount, did include a request to buy a URL Franklin owned, but explicitly excluded all of his own content, and specified that I’d install redirects to all his pages from that URL. He declined.

By then, it had been almost a year since we’d signed the settlement agreement. Out of options, I sued to enforce it.

And here we are. We seemed so close to being fully free of each other, and yet…

Family lawyers use the phrase “blender wars” to refer to couples who spend hundreds of hours and tens of thousands of dollars fighting bitterly over property that is worth very little, monetarily. Camping gear, Star Wars collectibles, the good TV, what have you.

And you know what? Breaking up just fucking sucks. Splitting up a life you’ve built with someone, all the things you created with them, sucks. But there is nothing inherently devious, malicious or nefarious about efforts to do so. They are predictable, inevitable and absolutely necessary.

A couple of years ago, I got divorced. I had to give up the home I’d lived in for more than a decade, and the beautiful garden we’d co-created. It hurt. It didn’t feel fair. My ex-husband paid me for my share, but I was the one who had to start over. The last time I stood in the garden (my garden), I cried. I had mature fruit trees, figs and cherries and apples and a kiwi vine, that were giving abundant harvests I’d never again get to taste. Spring bulbs by the hundreds.

But it wasn’t my ex-husband’s fault that it hurt so much. He didn’t buy me out of the house because he wanted me to suffer. It was just one of many shitty consequences of dividing a shared life.

The “more than two” online brand Franklin and I built together, starting in 2013, and the books we wrote together, are undeniably co-created. Before we launched the blog and a crowdfunder for the More Than Two book, Franklin Veaux’s polyamory pages were known from Xeromag.

Historical site traffic for morethantwo dot com and xeromag dot com, 2012 to present, showing virtually no traffic for morethantwo dot com before July 2013 and a steady increase thereafter. Traffic to Xeromag initially increases and then drops off. July 5, 2013, was the date of the joint launch of the More Than Two book blog. Adapted from data from Semrush.
Historical site traffic for morethantwo dot com and xeromag dot com, 2012 to present. Adapted from data from Semrush. In July 2013 Franklin and I launched the joint launch of the More Than Two book blog. and Franklin redirected his polyamory pages from xeromag to morethantwo. In September 2014, morethantwo dot com was relaunched with a new design by my company, Talk Science to Me, which is still used on the current site.

There is also nothing inherently devious, malicious or nefarious about offers of money in exchange for property. Copyrights, content, URLs and brands are bought and sold all the time. But Franklin has made clear that his half of the brand isn’t for sale, and you can’t buy what’s not being sold. So my new offer is an attempt at mutual coexistence and noninterference. I would get the brand as it relates to books—including the More Than Two copyrights. He’d get the Black Iron copyright and all rights to the universe. Neither of us would interfere with the other’s use of “More Than Two” online. There are a few more terms, all aimed at severing what remains of the links between us.

Last year, I planted. Figs and cherries, blueberries and raspberries and currants and kiwis, even a couple of grapes like the ones my late father-in-law used to grow. Most aren’t ready to harvest yet. I got a few clusters of grapes. A friend brought a bowl of figs from her tree, and I traded for some of my garlic. I planted over 500 bulbs last fall, and will plant as many more next month.

It’ll never be exactly what I had before, and I’ll probably always miss my old garden, where my beloved cat Stella spent her final days sunning herself happily on the bricks. But it’s home. And it’s mine.

It’s time to move on.

Grapes © Eve Rickert 2022

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