Wednesday, October 19, 2005


What's in a name?

Groups or individuals borrow pieces of another organization's name, sometimes to mock, sometimes to imitate, and sometimes to encourage curiosity. My curiosity is why the legal system has been filled with so many suits over names.

I read this article about the Church of Scientology suing a web site because it uses a play on the Scientology name as a domain name, Maybe it's the age of the internet, but I can't remember so many suits filed about one party obfuscating another party's name. The age of Microsoft's silly case against Lindows. Or, Microsoft going after a kid's web site because his domain name was based on his name,

It seems in a lot of cases, the complaint is rubbish and would probably be irrelevant at some time before the internet. There is a legitimacy to protecting a company's name, but sometimes it goes too far.

How long before Kellogg's sues Malt-O-Meal over the cereal titled "Frosted Flakes"? I give you exhibit A and exhibit B. Here is a case where the is no twist on the names. Even those these companies share an identical product with identical names, the consumer can easily discern between the two and a healthy competition can exist.

Will anyone visiting or really think they are visiting the Church of Scientology or Microsoft? Is a consumer not able to distinguish between Microsoft Windows and Lindows? Dr. Pepper and Mr. Pib? ;) At some point, common sense has to take hold. The courts have no need to look down on the consumer and do the thinking for them.

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