Re: Trademark Question

Subject: Re: Trademark Question
From: Michael Lewis <lewism -at- BRANDLE -dot- COM -dot- AU>
Date: Wed, 1 Apr 1998 21:44:09 +1000

There's been an earlier posting making the point that use of a trademark
as a noun rather than an adjective involves certain risks: you have to
take legal advice (which you have) on that. So how does Microsoft get
away with referring to "Microsoft Word", or Adobe with "Adobe

I suspect there are two factors at work. First, there's simple
anthropomorphism: software products are often described as doing human
things like making decisions. Second, though, calling a product
something like Word is different from giving it a model designation like
ASP-20. One could speak of the Word word processing application just as
one could speak of the ASP-20 widget, but not conversely.

I can't think of many types of product that exhibit this phenomenon,
though: bands (INXS rather than the INXS group -- but the Beatles, the
Comets, the Crickets, and the New York Symphony rather than New York);
wine (Ch Mouton rather than the Ch Mouton claret); plants (Peace rather
than the Peace rose, etc).

I can imagine a technical writer having to deal with any of these
products, so it looks like a good opportunity for some serious academic
research to work out exactly what's going on. Meanwhile, I think the
thread is worth keeping open.

Michael Lewis
Brandle Pty Limited, Sydney, Australia
PO Box 1249, Strawberry Hills, NSW 2012
Suite 8, The Watertower, 1 Marian St, Redfern 2016
Tel +61-2-9310-2224 ... Fax +61-2-9310-5056

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