Re: Trademarks

Subject: Re: Trademarks
From: Robert Plamondon <robert -at- PLAMONDON -dot- COM>
Date: Sat, 4 Nov 1995 12:12:21 PST

Arlen P. Walker says:

>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.


Could you kindly site a clear statement by someone who ought to
know that indicates anything of the kind? Trademark law protects
the trademark holder from having his name ripped off by competitors
and imitators; I've never seen anything but folklore that indicates
that trademark law takes precedence over the First Amendment.

Thus, the Coca-Cola Corporation can sue and win if another beverage
company calls their product "coke." They can sue restauranteurs
for silently delivering Pepsi when the customer ordered "a Coke."
They can sue T-shirt makers for putting their logo on a shirt without
paying a royalty.

All these have to do with making money off the use of Coke's name.

But what if I'm NOT appropriating their name? Can you show me someone
who was actually sent to the Gulag for not putting a trademark symbol
after UNIX, or for using the old 'UNIX is a registered trademark
of AT&T Bell Laboratories' instead of the disclaimer du jour?

What *IS* true is that companies have to "defend" their trademarks,
which they do by sending "lawyer letters" to people who use their
names in a way they consider out of bounds. But I have never heard
of anything actually HAPPENING. A company receives a lawyer letter;
they respond with a "thank you for the information, we will keep
it in mind in future editions of the document," and then everyone
goes back to sleep.

Is there an actual penalty for claiming that UNIX is a trademark of
AT&T Bell Laboratories? What, exactly?

-- Robert

Robert Plamondon * High-Tech Technical Writing
36475 Norton Creek Road * Blodgett * Oregon * 97326
robert -at- plamondon -dot- com * (503) 453-5841
"I regret that I have but one * for my country." -- Nathan Hale

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