I was fuming after my mate revealed she planned to call her baby girl my daughter's middle name

I THOUGHT nothing could ever come between me and my friend Nicola.

We’ve been best pals since we were 11, we’ve shared everything. But then she told me what she was planning on calling her third child if it was a girl: Autumn. 

It’s a lovely name. So lovely, I’d already chosen it 15 months ago as Blake’s middle name. Cue me fuming.

I know you can’t copyright a name – and I’m certainly not the first person to use it. Was I being petty? I didn’t say anything, just quietly seethed.

It turns out baby name theft is a very real phenomenon. A Reddit thread on the topic has hundreds of comments, many involving “crying for days”, family feuds and entire friendship groups falling out.

And now that it’s happened to me, I can understand why. It sounds ridiculous (and must be the epitome of a first-world problem), but baby naming can be a long and emotional process. If someone uses the one you’ve got your heart set on, it rankles.

Think of Friends, when Monica gets miffed that Rachel’s nicked her favourite name, Emma.

Or Charlotte in Sex And The City’s outrage when they go to a baby shower and find that the mum-to-be has stolen her secret, made-up name, Shayla.

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But perhaps there should be a statute of limitations on how long you can bagsy a name for.

One friend told me that her school mate had a list of five that none of the group were ever allowed to call their children – even though they were 14 at the time.

People will go to extreme lengths to avoid being victims of baby name theft. I know women who refuse to reveal the names they like in case someone else nabs one.

A colleague recalls telling her family she was pregnant, only to be texted immediately by her sister-in-law – not to wish her congratulations, but to declare that she planned on calling her as-yet-unconceived child Emily, “…just so you know.” 

Sometimes baby name theft can happen when you don’t even know the parents in question. One of my friends was so annoyed when William and Kate called their daughter Charlotte in 2015 that she considered changing her baby’s name (even though her Charlotte was already 10 months old at the time).

In a US survey, over 50% said that if someone has vocalised plans for a name, then it’s wrong to use it.*

I asked my Instagram followers what they thought and the majority felt the same, especially if it was a meaningful, original name as opposed to, say, John or Sarah.

But what if the name is similar but not the same? What if you’re not that good friends? Well, you certainly won’t be if you’ve named your son Calen right after your mate has called her baby Caleb.

It gets worse. One commenter on the aforementioned Reddit thread was outraged that her best friend had used her idea for a baby name – not for her baby, but to use as her stage name while working as a stripper.

Another revealed that their mother-in-law had expressed dislike of their name of choice, only to call her dog the exact same thing. Way to ruin it, Grandma!

So what can you do if someone’s got designs on your dream baby name, for their pet or otherwise? Etiquette experts say that other than explaining how it would make you feel if your friend used “your” name, there’s not really much you can do.

Intellectual property rights don’t stretch to even the most unique of baby names.

Thankfully, my own problem was quickly resolved – Nicola had a boy. Phew. 

Follow Kate on Instagram @katewillswrites.

This week I’m…

Sipping… Yuzucello

A refreshing change from limoncello, this citrus liqueur from The Wasabi Company is my new festive tipple.

Lighting… Rosemary & Ridgway candles

Hand-poured by two sisters, I’ve been lighting the gingerbread one and pretending I’ve baked! 

Excited to watch… Queer Eye

The Fab Five are back on Friday for a new season of fierce makeovers and French tucks. Yas!

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