A. Maberry maberry at U.WASHINGTON.EDU
Thu Jun 1 01:35:57 UTC 2000

I don't know, but here is the company's take on it from their web-page

The Mark Metadata

The mark METADATA was registered in 1986 in the United States of America
Patent and Trademark Office as U.S. Trademark Registration   No 1,409,206
and is a valuable proprietary trade name and trademark belonging to The
Metadata Company. The trademark was  granted "Incontestable" status in

When used as a trade name it stands for The Metadata Company.

When used as a trademark it symbolizes the owner of that mark as the
source of computer programs bearing that mark.  When the registered mark
METADATA is used in print, the proprietary nature of that mark must be
preserved. Accordingly, when the mark METADATA is used, it should always
begin with a capital "M" or be completely capitalized. Also, it should
always be noted in any publication that the mark is a registered trademark
of The Metadata Company.

The mark should not be used generically as a noun, or as a descriptive
term, but rather only in its proper context, which is an identification of
The Metadata Company or as a registered trademark for computer programs
bearing that mark.

If the intent of the use of the term METADATA is to mean "data about
data", then it should be used as two words (meta data) or hyphenated

In the early summer of 1969, after defining the architecture of what was
later to be called the Metamodel, Jack E. Myers coined a new word -
"metadata". He first used the term in print in a 1973 product brochure. It
was    intentionally designed to be a term with no particular meaning that
would be catchy and possibly easy to remember...e.g., "I never metadata I
did not like."

In his experience and knowledge it was a new term. A data and publication
search at that time did not discover any use either of the word
"metadata" or "meta data".   If META and DATA were used as two words, they
would refer to the data about meta e.g., "a triple and conical turning
post placed at each end of a track in a Roman Circus." (Webster Dictionary
of the English Language).  The word META had several established meanings
when used to prefix other words but none when used to prefix the word
DATA. METADATA could not be inferred from other uses of META. It is not,

data that has been changed in position or form, altered or transposed, as
in METAmorphosed;

data that is abstract, abstruse or subtle, as in METAphysics. ( The use of
META in metaphysics referred to those books by Aristotle that came after
his books on physics. Adler's Philosophical Dictionary, ISBN

data that is behind or in back, as in METAthorax.

Use of the word meta- is found in the article "Gurus of
Meta-Human," September 29, 1997, issue of Newsweek. The author, Rick
Marin, states that: part of being "alternative" means being "meta," or one
level cooler than everybody else.

The intent of the term Metadata was to be used to represent current and
future lines of products implementing the concepts of the Metamodel and
also to designate a company that would develop and market those
products.  Mr. Myers, the  developer of the Metadata Data Model
(Metamodel), is a principal of The Metadata Company.


Meta-Data and Meta Data

Meta data, n. [from L. meta-; Gr. meta- and L. data] Data that
characterizes other data in a reflexive way, e.g., data about
data. Analogous to words about words. In data processing, it is
definitional data that provides information about or documentation of
other data managed within an application or environment. For example, meta
data would document data about DATA ELEMENTS or ATTRIBUTES, (name, size,
data type, etc) and data about RECORDS or DATA STRUCTURES (length,
fields/columns, etc) and data about DATA (where it is located, how it is
associated, ownership, etc.). Meta data may include descriptive
information about the context, quality and condition, or characteristics
of the data.

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On Wed, 31 May 2000, Peter A. McGraw wrote:

> Does the prior generic existence of a word preclude registering it as a
> trademark and thus reserving it for that purpose from then on?
> Peter
> --On Thu, Jun 1, 2000 3:02 AM +0000 Joseph McCollum <prez234 at JUNO.COM>
> wrote:
> > I think this claim has been decided as frivolous (or it ought to be).  In
> > any case, I would like to know if "metadata" existed as a generic word
> > before 1986 (when the trademark was issued)...My colleagues are sure that
> > it did, but maybe Barry P. or others could confirm it.
> > ------
> >
> ****************************************************************************
>                                Peter A. McGraw
>                    Linfield College   *   McMinnville, OR
>                             pmcgraw at

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