HomeRoast Digest


Topic: Trademarks (was: Re: +Copyright) (12 msgs / 309 lines)
1) From: John Blumel
On Jan 13, 2004, at 12:49pm, Bill Martin wrote:
<Snip>
If I recall correctly, text trademarks (word marks) are case neutral 
and are registered in all caps but the capitalization, or lack thereof, 
is not relevant. In other words, the Coca-Cola Company has registered 
the trademark 'COKE' (In a surprising number of categories and 
variations, I might add.) and the case doesn't matter. (Of course, 
they've also registered the stylized  logo, which does sport a 
capital 'C', but in that case the trademark is for the exact image 
registered.) Although I've no doubt they would send a letter, I'm not 
sure they have any legal basis for insisting that the word 'coke' be 
spelled with a capital 'C' in text references when referring to a 
carbonated beverage.
Apparently, I've got way to much time on my hands today.
John Blumel

2) From: Bill Martin
On Jan 13, 2004, at 9:06 AM, John Blumel wrote:
<Snip>
<Snip>
Hi John,
Not to put too fine a point to it, but I worked most of my adult life 
either in broadcast, newspaper and print publications or Ad Agencies.
Personally, I have seen and read two of these letters from Coca Cola 
attorneys.  Very brief, very polite, not confrontational, but firm.
And heard documentation of several other such.
They DO insist that you capitalize the word Coke, if you use it to name 
their beverage in print.  This is exactly how the words aspirin and 
kleenex came into common lexicon, and lost their trademark status.  And 
that is why many companies, not just Coca Cola defend and insist on the 
capitalization, if you use their name in print.
<Snip>
Yeah, me too.  Obviously.  Get to work.  Me too.  
Bill
 From the fertile slopes of Kilauea Volcano on the Big Island

3) From: John Blumel
On Jan 13, 2004, at 2:51pm, Bill Martin wrote:
<Snip>
I'm completely convinced that they do send out these letters. I just 
don't think they actually have a legal basis for the insistence. I 
think this is simply misguided, heavy handed, corporate bullying that 
does nothing to achieve the intended effect -- i.e., prevent the term 
from slipping into general use. But, corporate lawyers have to do 
something to earn their keep so why not write a bunch of useless 
letters that you can show to management when they ask what you've done 
for them lately. Trademarked words do not become generic terms in 
print, they do so in everyday spoken communication and there's nothing 
that companies can really do about it. They can't even tell if you used 
an initial capital or not when you say "coke."
I think I'll go have a coke now. Well, maybe some Coffee instead.
John Blumel

4) From: john roberts
While such letters will not stop all such abuse, it demonstrates that they
actively tried to protect the distinction, should a status review occur at
some later date.
JR

5) From: Bill Martin
ROTFLMAO!!!!  LOL!!
Bill
On Jan 13, 2004, at 11:29 AM, John Blumel wrote:
<Snip>
 From the fertile slopes of Kilauea Volcano on the Big Island

6) From: John Blumel
On Jan 13, 2004, at 4:42pm, john roberts wrote:
<Snip>
The point is that it isn't abuse -- especially since all non-commercial 
uses are non-infringing and the only thing trademark law protects 
against is infringement -- for a newspaper to print 'coke'. The 
Coca-Cola Company owns a trademark for 'COKE' with any capitalization. 
Thus, 'Coke', 'coke' and even 'coKe' are legally equivalent. This 
protects them because it prevents a competitor from selling 'coKe'.
If anything, focusing on a specific capitalization dilutes their 
trademark more than protecting it. They can't have it both ways. What 
they are trying to do is enforce their corporate style guidelines, 
which you may need to follow if you work for them or sell their product 
(they could always cut you off) but which you can safely ignore 
otherwise.
John Blumel

7) From: john roberts
While not a lawyer I believe the distinction about capitalization may be
that they want it considered a proper name (capitalized) rather than a
generic thing or type of thing (not capitalized).
JR

8) From: John Blumel
On Jan 13, 2004, at 6:43pm, john roberts wrote:
<Snip>
I understand what they are doing. I'm just saying that sending 
threatening letters telling people that they must use a specific 
capitalization and implicitly or explicitly threatening legal action if 
they don't comply is simply corporate thuggery with no basis in law. 
Any lawyer who knows this and sends such a letter is not behaving 
professionally. Any lawyer that doesn't realize there's no legal basis 
for such a letter, well...
John Blumel

9) From: Bill Martin
Absolutely.
aspirin is now generic.
And whether the maker likes it or not, so is kleenex.
Another company that protects their product is Alka Seltzer.  A million 
years ago, in the age of the dinosaurs, when I worked in television, 
you could not run Alka Seltzer commercials in a break, with another 
"beverage" or cold product, or stomach medication.  Their definition of 
beverage was just about any liquid ingested.  Soft drinks, coffee, tea, 
milk, chocolate milk, etc., etc.  If, upon looking over the logs, the 
agency discovered another beverage or pharmaceutical, in the same 
break,  the station could not collect $$ for the commercial.  I see 
that that is no longer true in this day and age.
To keep this relatively on-topic, I've been buying beans from a 
neighbor, a small plantation, coffee growing at about 1300 ft., on the 
south facing slopes.  Green beans, and roasting to second crack and a 
little more, to a dark brown, with oil expressing within about 12 
hours.  The coffee has an almost chocolate flavor.
Bill
On Jan 13, 2004, at 1:43 PM, john roberts wrote:
<Snip>
 From the fertile slopes of Kilauea Volcano on the Big Island

10) From: Bill Martin
Well, hopefully, I can put a period to the end of this discussion.
In the publishing business, especially when it depends on your 
advertising revenue, if Coca Cola sends you a nice letter, reminding 
you to capitalize their name from now on....  generally speaking, it is 
in your best interest not to contest the legality or non-legality of 
the thing, and just do as they request.
Whether or not it is Corporate thuggery or bullying is really 
immaterial.  If I'm about to lose 3 million dollars or even several 
thousand dollars a year in revenue by ignoring the request.... then, 
shoots, bruddah, I gone capitalize dat dam' name!!!  An' dats dat!!
Bill
On Jan 13, 2004, at 2:04 PM, John Blumel wrote:
<Snip>
 From the fertile slopes of Kilauea Volcano on the Big Island

11) From: John Blumel
Uncle!

12) From: Dan Bollinger
<Snip>
LOL!  Well said. Or should I say, "Well proclaimed!" ?


HomeRoast Digest