Missing the Trademark

Ahh, the first few months of the year. First we’re urged to buy big-screened televisions for “the big game”, then we can win trips to L.A. for “Hollywood’s biggest night” and of course now in March, there are “double dribble” specials on pizza and the like.

I used to find these generic ways of representing trademarks mildly amusing, but now I’m convinced they’re doing more harm than good. How is that we can allow groups to create names and then control how they’re used? I’m not talking about counterfeit products, of course, but who really cares if Best Buy uses the words “Super Bowl”?

Even worse are the recent lawsuits against Google for its AdWords tool. Companies such as Geico, AXA, and various travel agencies sued, claiming that competing companies were misusing their trademarks. No doubt they’d love to control every mention of their names, but where does it stop? Does an ad that boasts “Cheaper than GEICO®!” need to be approved by that very company?

As usual, I must ask: who’s looking out for customers?

3 Responses to “Missing the Trademark”

  1. b Says:

    Does an ad that boasts “Cheaper than GEICO®!” need to be approved by that very company?


  2. jsp Says:

    I guess I should have been more clear. I should have said: Will an ad…someday need to be approved by that very company?

    Of course, it’s already happening in some places. Yes, Google prevailed in the U.S. case (GEICO) but also lost several French cases on essentially the same grounds. So the continuing undue deference to trademark holders is getting out of hand.

    Nonetheless, I’m thrilled that you took the time to comment. Stay tuned for when I reference your “local HD” message soon.

  3. Dennis Says:

    Yeah, but, come on. French lawsuits aren’t exactly a bellwether. I mean, they come from France, after all!

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