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Subject:Re: If it's not Unix... From:"Arlen P. Walker" <Arlen -dot- P -dot- Walker -at- JCI -dot- COM> Date:Fri, 3 Nov 1995 08:31:00 -0600
Coke is not only a trademark, it is also a generic term for
cola-flavored carbonated beverage, simply because of its ubiquitous use.
Similarly, Kleenex is commonly used as a generic term for facial tissue.
These and other trademarks are used generically by convention. It would
be silly to attempt to legally prevent us from saying
May I point out that simply because you do it does not make it either legal or
proper? Companies invest great sums of money in building a trademark; why should
their success at it give you the right to steal it from them?
There's not a lot that can be done about speech patterns around the water
cooler, misguided as they are (BTW, "Coke" as a generic for cola or carbonated
soft drink is a regional usage, not a global one). But we're responsible for
what we write, and using trademarked terms loosely is not only inexact and vague
(and therefore bad writing) but it is illegal, regardless of how silly you may
think it is. I assure you, the company who has invested millions of dollars and
many years in building the reputation of a trademark doesn't think it at all
silly to ask you to respect their work. After all, trademarks that are turned
into generics are, in effect, stolen from the company that built them, and that
theft amounts to huge sums of money.
"Pass me a Kleenex so I can wipe this Coke off my Levis."
and instead make us say
"Pass me a facial tissue so I can wipe this cola-flavored carbonated
beverage off my blue denim pants."
"Pass me a paper towel (my drinks must be bigger than yours, a facial tissue
would never cut it for me) so I can wipe this [soda/drink/cola -- choose your
favorite] off my jeans."
No trademark infringement, and no loss of clarity in the writing. (BTW, in my
case, it'd be a "Kick" not a "Coke." I don't like colas of *any* stripe.)
UNIX is the correct
word to use when referring generically to Solaris, HP-UX, etc. because
they are all flavors of UNIX. I have been documenting UNIX-based
software for seven years, and I reguarly use the word UNIX generically.
All that proves is you don't care (or don't know) about trademark law; it has no
bearing on the issue of whether it is proper to do so.
Chief Managing Director In Charge, Department of Redundancy Department
Arlen -dot- P -dot- Walker -at- JCI -dot- Com
In God we trust; all others must provide data.
Opinions expressed are mine and mine alone.
If JCI had an opinion on this, they'd hire someone else to deliver it.