The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'trademarks'
Galambosianism is alive and well in Illinois, where a man claims total ownership of all rights to several words including "stealth". He has successfully held off stealth-fighter maker Northrop-Grumman, won a few thousand dollars from joke site stealthdisco.com (which showed clips of employees dancing silently for a moment or two near the desks of unsuspecting colleagues), and even managed to shut down StealThisEmail.com because it contained "stealth", and is now in court against Sony's Columbia Pictures, who are about to release an action movie titled Stealth. Oh, and he also claims ownership over a number of other words, including "chutzpah".
The MPAA show their bizarre, fundamentalist views on intellectual property yet again, this time by sending legal nastygrams to websites using the MPAA's ratings code; i.e., if you claim that your website, photo gallery, Harry Potter fan-fiction story or whatever is G (or PG or R or whatever)-rated, you can expect a cease-and-desist notice in the mail:
"We have a right to go after people who use our trademarks without permission, big or small, whenever we find out about them," said John Feehery, executive vice president for the association. "Our ratings are not supposed to be ripped off."
Wendy Seltzer, a lawyer with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, argues that the association would have a point only if the fiction sites had claimed that association reviewers had rated the works. Using the ratings as a rough comparison is not a trademark infringement, she said: "It's like saying a beverage tastes like Coke."
I'm hoping that this does go to court and the MPAA get a good caning, which, if anything resembling common sense prevails, they should.
Meanwhile, if you're content with the G, PG and R ratings, you can always claim that you're using the Australian ones and not the U.S. ones; the Australian Office of Film and Literature Censorship may be Bowdlerites, but they're probably not Galambosians.
China Miéville has written a story (for the Socialist Review, of all places), envisioning a privatised, trademarked Xmas:
Don't get me wrong. I haven't got shares in YuleCo, and I can't afford a one-day end-user licence, so I couldn't have a legal party. I'd briefly considered buying from one of the budget competitors like XmasTym, or a spinoff from a non-specialist like Coca-Crissmas, but the idea of doing it on the cheap was just depressing. I wouldn't have been able to use much of the traditional stuff, and if you can't have all of it, why have any? (XmasTym had the rights to Egg Nog. But Egg Nog's disgusting.) Those other firms keep trying to create their own alternatives to proprietary classics like reindeer and snowmen, but they never take off. I'll never forget Annie's underwhelmed response to the JingleMas Holiday Gecko.
No, like most people, I was going to have a little MidWinter Event, just Annie and me. So long as I was careful to steer clear of licenced products we'd be fine.
Ivy decorations you can still get away with; holly's a no-no but I'd hoarded a load of cherry tomatoes, which I was planning to perch on cactuses. I wouldn't risk tinsel but had a couple of brightly-coloured belts I was going to drape over my aspidistra. You know the sort of thing. The inspectors aren't too bad: they'll sometimes turn a blind eye to a bauble or two (which is just as well, because the fines for unlicensed Christmas celebrations are astronomical).
(via bOING bOING)
What shall it profit a rodent if he shall gain the pop-cultural world but lose his soul? One could ask that question of Mickey Mouse; since his debut in 1928, the ubiquitous rodent has gone from being a mischievous, somewhat sadistic cartoon prankster (in the classic slapstick style of the medium) to the corporate identity of an intellectual-property behemoth and, arguably, a symbol of McWorld itself. Of course, as this happened, the once lively character lost his own story and personality and became, at best, as bland and anaemic as any friendly, helpful corporate mascot, and at worst, a symbol of heavy-handed corporate hegemony over culture:
"If I was looking for the crossover point where Mickey's story morphed into the Disney story, it was `The Sorcerer's Apprentice,' " said Mr. Hardison, referring to the Mickey segment of Disney's 1940 classic, "Fantasia," in which the mouse, as an aspiring magician, attempts to harness his master's tricks. "That's where he cemented his place as the source of Disney magic. Magic is such an important characteristic of Disney, but it wasn't an important characteristic of Mickey. Once he becomes magical, he is no longer the everyman underdog. He went from being the little guy against the world to a symbol of what Disney does."
And so a logo was born. A brilliant one, at that: any close approximation of the two black ear-disks is enough to say "Disney" anywhere in the world. "For the sheer power of the graphics," the sculptor Ernest Trova once said, "Mickey Mouse is rivaled only by the Coca-Cola trademark and the swastika." By making itself inseparable from its beloved mascot, Disney made it impossible to see Mickey and not think of the company that backs him -- one whose public profile is a lot more controversial than that of your average stuffed animal.
(via bOING bOING, of course)
In the US, Microsoft are suing a student named Mike Rowe for running an outfit called MikeRoweSoft (find the URL yourself; every angry penguin has linked to it); however, here in Australia, a pillow-maker is using the trademark "Microsoft", and there's not a thing Darth Gates' minions can do about it, as it's quite legal under Australian trademark law.
"Accordingly, I cannot accept the opponent's assertion that purchasers would be confused or deceived as to the origin of the two marks in question. The two sets of goods of interest to both parties are most certainly not, in my opinion, goods of the same description. I cannot agree that the opponent's undoubted reputation for computers and the like extends to the materials which are the subject of the present application."
Though I wonder whether this state of affairs would survive a US-Australian Free Trade Agreement.
The Onion's commentary about current directions in trademark law: Tanzania loses name to tanning salon chain:
"It was easy to establish that my client's company had a greater vested interest in the Tanzania brand name," said Yeltzer's lawyer, Ben Knowles. "Tanzania, the salon chain, is a rapidly growing business, adding nearly 50 locations each year. Tanzania, the African nation, is lanquishing under a debt of $7 billion."
"When you come to a Tanzania location, you know you're in for an out-of-the-ordinary tanning experience," Yeltzer said. "Our salons are famous for their casual but professional atmosphere. Last year, four million customers visited Tanzania Salons. Can the country of Tanzania make that claim?"