Victoria Neufeldt vneufeldt at M-W.COM
Fri Jun 2 12:21:39 UTC 2000

I remember being told by a legal person a number of years ago that simply
the act of sending such letters as mentioned below fulfills the obligation
of the trademark holder to protect the trademark -- or something like that.
They don't need to pursue the matter past that.  Perhaps someone else on the
list has more complete information on this?

And speaking of dictionary representation of trademarks, one of the sillier
things is the representation of the long-established standard word 'loafer'
for a type of shoe as a trademark in all the major dictionaries in this
country, most without any recognition of its validity as a generic term at
all.  I was very surprised the first time I saw this in a dictionary,
because I could not remember having heard of the actual brand name at all,
and I don't think I've ever seen it to this day.

Merriam-Webster, Inc. P.O. Box 281
Springfield, MA 01102
Tel: 413-734-3134  ext 124
Fax: 413-827-7262

> -----Original Message-----
> From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU]On Behalf
> Of AAllan at AOL.COM
> Sent: Thursday, June 01, 2000 4:59 PM
> Subject: Re: metadata?
> This is what I've heard at meetings of the Dictionary Society,
> from those who
> ought to know:
> Even though you can register a name as a trademark, you cannot
> prevent people
> from using that name in discourse, or even putting it in a dictionary. The
> registration means only that others can't use that name to make money by
> using your name for their product. For example, the Coca-Cola company can
> prevent a grocery story from adverising Pepsi as "Coke," but it
> cannot stop
> people in the southeastern U.S. from calling a Pepsi or other soft drink a
> coke, or co-cola, or whatever. Trademark has to do with trade;
> conversation
> has to do with free speech.
> Companies want their trademarks to be widely known, which leads to the
> likelihood that a trademark will become a generic term: Kleenex and Xerox,
> for example. So the lawyers for the companies are vigilant. They send out
> threatening letters to makers of dictionaries, for example, if a
> dictionary
> dares to say that a trademark has a generic use. Pusillanimous
> lexicographers
> sometimes retreat; we heard a story not too long ago about
> "Crackerjack" in
> the venerable Dictionary of American English. But no dictionary, from what
> I've heard, has ever actually been sued for reporting generic usage of a
> trademark, much less lost a suit.
> So if you want to use "metadata" not to sell a product of your
> own but just
> to discuss something, ain't no law can stop you. - Allan Metcalf

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