Re: Trademark usage (was UNIX v. Unix)

Subject: Re: Trademark usage (was UNIX v. Unix)
From: "Eric L. Dunn" <edunn -at- TRANSPORT -dot- BOMBARDIER -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 6 May 1999 14:20:44 -0400

What Fred Ridder had to say was very well put, however I have reservations
about his conclusion. From the post it would seem that when it comes to
trademarks you have very little control over how others use it. You need to
prove some kind of loss to you or unfair advantage gained by the other.
However you do have a case to give someone a cease and desist order if they
are incorrectly using your trademark. To quote our corporate guide:
"Trademarks can be lost if they are not used correctly. A trademark is lost
when it becomes generic and sneaks into the language as a common name
description of the product, as distinguished from the source and identity
of the product.
If a trademark becomes generic, the original owner loses exclusive rights
to use the mark. Anybody can then use the trademark and take advantage of
the advertising and promotion dollars spent by the former owners."
This would be true of nylon, frigidaire (fridge), escalator, zipper, and
An example here at Bombardier is that we must never refer Ski-Dooing or
Sea-Dooing, even if the sales slogan is "Everyone is Dooing it.". A
trademark must always be used as an adjective followed by the generic or
common name. Registered trademarks must always be followed by the
registered symbol.
If your company strictly follows these guidelines with there trademark they
are within their right to go after others who use it otherwise. It is not
just a case of hoping others will play fair. You must defend your trademark
and resist it becoming a common term.
With the case of Unix or UNIX(r) it could very well be that UNIX(r) is a
registered trademark. However, if you can make a case that in general usage
unix or Unix has become a common term then you can write it any way you
want. If the owner has not defended the trademark it is lost and then
becomes a matter of them hoping others will play fair.
With regards to (r), a statement somewhere indicating Widget(r) is a
registered trademark of ACME covers you for a document. The first instance
should be explicit. If there is no disclaimer, all instances must be

Eric L. Dunn

An interesting note is that my spell checker (lotus notes) asks that unix
and Unix be changed to UNIX.

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