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The Pillsbury Doughboy vs. Engineers

timothy posted more than 13 years ago | from the who-would-you-bet-on? dept.

It's funny.  Laugh. 190

Anonymous Coward writes: "Just when you thought things could not get more stpid. Salon is reporting in this story that Pillsbury is sending cease-and-desist letters this week to universities and Sun Microsystems among others ordering engineers to stop holding what the doughboy company considers illegal "bake-offs." A bake-off is slang for testing software against protocols. This article tells the story. Xray crystallographers who use the "shake and bake" software better watch out. They're probably next."

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190 comments

Yes, I know this is not a lawsuit (2)

perdida (251676) | more than 13 years ago | (#493405)

The point is, however, when you invite lawyers into a situation like this, a lawsuit could easily follow.

If I take my car to a mechanic, the mechanic's likely to add on additional work for himself. A lawyer's involvement is unlikely to stop at a simple letter, because he or she operates under the same principle the mechanic would use.

You might say that the company can control it's lawyers, stopping at the letter. But, in this day and age, how much of a company's behavior is actually controlled by the lawyers?

How... (3)

griffjon (14945) | more than 13 years ago | (#493407)

can a company be so mindbogglingly stupid? I cannot conceive of a non-comedic board meeting with the legal team to decide to pursue 'bake-off' as a trademark under infringement. Expecially right now. I would've expected it in mid-99 when they could've used their legal team to sap some dollars out of the tech boom [1], but trying it now is squeezing water from a stone.

Of course, this is from a company that asks you to sign up for their spam with a damn popup on their front page, so. Surf their brands [pilsbury.com] to see what you should boycott. Lay off the haagen-dazs, green giant, old el paso, and of course, pilsbury.

[1] Of course, it would've been stupid then for the same reasons it is now, but I could at least see a good corp-think argument for it.

Re:U.S. laws make Pillsbury do this (1)

djocyko (214429) | more than 13 years ago | (#493412)

Honestly, I never heard of a pillsbury bake-off. Bake-off is def everyday language, and I feel that they should reliquish their rights to the phrase

Re:Time for a boycott. (3)

Fishstick (150821) | more than 13 years ago | (#493414)

Undoubtedly, this [google.com] is the reason for thier actions.

Someone at Pillsbury was probably shocked and dismayed when doing a search on "bake-off" and getting all these hits that have nothing to do with proper use of the Pillsbury trademark.

Stupid. Stupid. Stupid. *shakes head in dismay*

Also, there is this intersting IETF mail archive entry [132.151.1.19] about this very issue from last November. It quotes text from RFC1025 [kblabs.com] (Sept 1987) --

There were a few times when this testing was focused, bringing together all known implementations and running through a set of tests in hopes of demonstrating the N squared connectivity and correct implementation of the various tricky cases. These events were called "Bake Offs".

So the term has obviously been in use for quite a long time. I'll bet what is driving this now is all these TCP testing-related websites getting higher page ranks than Pillsbury's official bake-off contest stite. [bakeoff.com] It is causing consumer confusion! Too fscking bad!

Holy cow. (OT) (1)

Resident Geek (16074) | more than 13 years ago | (#493417)

Personally, I think lawyers who participate in that sort of intimidation should be disciplined by the Bar or the courts. It's not much better than robbing a bank w/ a toy gun.

Your analogy is especially appropriate, and my first thought on reading it was: Lawyers are nothing BUT robbers, these days, using the law as their sidearms. That the law is used not as a method of protecting people but rather a means to attack others to gain their assets is a sign that we're headed for the shitter. :(


Fighting the War on the War on Drugs.

Coke (1)

Deanasc (201050) | more than 13 years ago | (#493418)

The article mentions that Coke can be a soft drink and a mineral. Coke can also be an illicit drug. Perhaps we should be sending trademark lawyers after all the drug dealers. Perhaps an over zealous trademark lawyer will finally put all those pushers in their place. Or maybe those crackhead dealers will finally rid us of the lawyers. Perhaps some caps need to be busted off before corporate america will learn to live and let live.

Pure Lunacy (1)

Felinoid (16872) | more than 13 years ago | (#493419)

IANAL.. But I read books by Nolo press (Writen by legal experts to explain the law.. think "Law for Idiots")
This is well outside the function of trademarking. It is to protect product and company identity a "mark"..

I am aware however that nothing in IP law requires the protection be used as intended....

However this is flying in the face of the way language works.. English is the "worst" offender of language mutation...
But language mutates as needed... Need a term for testing protocals.. Why not "Bake off"? And how about "Beta testing".. Are we testing a Betamax? Often "Beta testing" is the PRIMARY test.. ("It's only a beta" should be answered with "What the hell happend to the alpha?")

Thankfully insect sprays haven't patented "killing bugs" or we'd be sued for fixing software defects... (Yeah yeah even Microsoft would get sued.. don't go there.. I hate them but stay on topic even if I can't)

So who do we sue next?
BTW the artical botched it... Klenex, Xerox and other trademarks have nearly gone into public domain but they did save the day..
The artical avoids a real comparison.. "Spam" where "Spam" refers to marketting bombardment in e-mail and usenet... the term was in use for years before Hormel sued Cyberpromo for using the term..

prior art deals with PATENTS, not trademarks... (1)

ism (180693) | more than 13 years ago | (#493420)

and even your examples would not stand up in court. There are many trademarked terms that are in common use. Try "Good Thing [uspto.gov] ", owned by Martha Stewart. Look up other "everyday" phrases at U.S. Patent and Trademark Office [uspto.gov] . You'd be surprised.

Re:What about the word "Spam" in the email context (1)

mlvezie (260764) | more than 13 years ago | (#493421)

A brief search on google [google.com] revealed the following (admittedly old) link about spam and email [directmag.com] . I'm curious whether the reasoning would apply to the present case.

I'm surprised they said that. Here's [spam.com] what Hormel has to say now about SPAM and UCE.

In summary, they don't mind people using the word, "spam" when talking about UCE, but not "SPAM" (distinguishing all-caps as their product name). They also (fairly, I think) don't like their product associated with UCE (for example, slashdot's use of a can of SPAM for the UCE [slashdot.org] topic).

Michael

Re:fresh dough boy -- OMG!! Mod this up!!! (1)

small_dick (127697) | more than 13 years ago | (#493422)

mod it up, boyz

Re:Details? (1)

jgibson (14889) | more than 13 years ago | (#493423)

I'm sure you're wrong about the case having no merit-- Pillsbury invented the term, they've held a trademark on it since 1971 (according to their website), and they've defended their trademark successfully in the past.

As I understand it, they could lose a suit like this if it could be shown that "bake-off" has become a generic term for "competition", or smething like that. And if they were claiming rights to the "-off" suffix, that would definitely be overreaching. But as it is, I don't see where this is a slam-dunk for the geeks.

And as for a "public relations fiasco," who's more sympathetic-- the doughboy, or Scott McNealy?

Intraveneous Prozac -- mmmmmmm (2)

small_dick (127697) | more than 13 years ago | (#493424)

go get some therapy...after they run about 50 grams of that stuff through your veins over a two year period or so...ahhhhh. things will be much mo betta.

Re:Time for a boycott. (1)

RAruler (11862) | more than 13 years ago | (#493425)

but I oh so love those Pillsbury Pizza Pops...

---

So, whom do you spam? (1)

haggar (72771) | more than 13 years ago | (#493429)

If you visit their website http://www.mealtimeideas.com/ you will be presented with a spam dialog box, where you are supposed to put your own e-mail address etc. And of course, you can put someone else's e-mail address.

I leve the rest to your fantasy.

(BTW, I couldnt' believe a company could be so moronic, even in USA where tehy, *sigsh*, can!)

Sue them back... (1)

mindriot (96208) | more than 13 years ago | (#493430)

I'd say we should encourage Fox Entertainment, Inc. or Matt Groening to sue Pillsbury back for calling their mascot "D'Oh"-boy.

Re:No docs online (1)

Keepiru (78270) | more than 13 years ago | (#493434)

trademark, not patent, and you'll probably have to search again for bake off, because that one expires
Get involved

About nobody bringing any baked goods... (1)

Luggage (250884) | more than 13 years ago | (#493435)

About that comment that "nobody brings a cassirole," it seems like somebody would bring a plate of cookies or natchos or something. After all, you've got a whole bunch of guys testing code for hours on end. This leads me to doubt that nobody ever brought a cassirole, or any other sort of food item.

This is fantastic news! (2)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 13 years ago | (#493436)

I mean, I've never liked "cookies technology" much, the thing Netscape introduced that allows websites to track users. With a bit of luck, Pillsbury has trademarked the word "cookie" too, and henceforth the invasive little bastards will be illegal!

Ho-hooo!
--

Does that make it illegal to "poke" people? (4)

amirboy2 (264999) | more than 13 years ago | (#493438)

am i in legal danger?

Re:Article gets it wrong. (4)

RedWizzard (192002) | more than 13 years ago | (#493439)

"Kleenex" is very much a registered and protected trademark, despite the yabberings of the uninformed.
An article [harvard.edu] in the Harvard Journal of Law and Technology states (references in the quote removed):
It is important to keep in mind that trademarks are inherently adjectival and must remain distinctive to retain their protected status. While many formerly distinctive marks have made a transition into common, generic nouns ("Kleenex" for "tissue") or even verbs (e.g., "to (make a) Xerox"), this metamorphosis, when complete, sacrifices the trademark to the public domain.
The thing to remember is that it will take a court case to determine whether that metamorphosis from trademark to generic term is complete. AFAIK for Kleenex that case has not happened, and Kimberly-Clark are still vigorously defending the trademark. A list of trademarks that have become generic can be found here [mycounsel.com] . Kleenex is not on it.

simple fix (1)

h2odragon (6908) | more than 13 years ago | (#493440)

Bring cookies to bake offs. Not pillsbury, of course...

Re:Time for a boycott. (1)

Keepiru (78270) | more than 13 years ago | (#493441)

You'd also have to boycott Haggen Dazs, Green Giant, Old El Paso, Totino's, Progresso, Jeno's and Martha White.

If you're serious about it though, I'll put a boycott up on my site, see below.

Get involved

Re:Article gets it wrong. (1)

Keepiru (78270) | more than 13 years ago | (#493442)

A better example is aspirin, did you know that used to be a brand name?
Now it's been diluted and IS open to other companies saying "Bayer Brand Aspirin"

Get involved

Bake Off (5)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#493443)

Sun can call it the "pillsbury fuck off" instead.

Should we write Pillsbury (2)

Alien54 (180860) | more than 13 years ago | (#493444)

So should we contact Pillsbury about this or do we even have a right to? Are we even qualified since we are all not lawyers and we do not have the "all" the facts?

I ask this because some upbraded my posting of Nintendo contact info in an earlier discussion this past week. Some did not like the idea of an executive get slash-dotted by all the people writing and sending email.

One comment made to me was:

And my other point which you failed to address: If anyone here is qualified to be sending their comments to Nintendo, they don't need you to help them get the address. You don't know enough about this case to be telling Nintendo that they are wrong. I don't know enough about this case to be telling them that they are right (though that is my opinion, based on what I have heard).
And My response was:
This walks in the interesting direction of saying that the consumers of a companies' product are inherently unqualified to communicate to the company about a product or a situation involving that product.

Now I'll grant you that *that* is likely *not* what you intended to say. But you can see how it can be taken that way, no?

And this does raise an interesting point of when do the consumers of a product have any right to communicate with the company that puts them out.

I'll grant you that it is less useful when it bears a marked resemblance to the jabbering of rabid monkeys.

But I *do* think that the consumer has an inherent right to communicate with the company that produces the product that they buy. Now it is up to each of us to cultivate the intelligence of the consumer.

The data, by itself, is not evil. The correct target is the cultivation of intelligence.

There was this reply:
My right to wave my hand around wildly ends at your face.

Your right to post contact info for Nintendo executives ends at Slashdot.
My position is stated clearly above. Although I could be wrong, I do believe that we all have the right to contact people in corporations based on what we do know and what we do believe. We should not be intimidated by the PR spin of some. Our freedom is based in large part on the ability to freely communicate.

Article gets it wrong. (4)

isaac (2852) | more than 13 years ago | (#493445)

"Kleenex" is very much a registered and protected trademark, despite the yabberings of the uninformed.

To test this, I propose the author attempt to bring to market a line of facial tissues called "Kleenex", and see exactly how long it takes for him to hear from the Kimberly-Clark corporation. Indeed, even if he were marketing Kleenex-brand Bowling Balls, I suspect he'd hear from K-C. This is such a stupid myth that would never be propagated but for poor fact-checking.

-Isaac

U.S. laws make Pillsbury do this (2)

michaelmalak (91262) | more than 13 years ago | (#493446)

If Pillsbury does not protect "bake-off" from entering into general English usage like "xerox", "escalator", "popscicle", and "kleenex", then Pillsbury loses some ability to enforce their trademark against a direct competitor. I'm mostly on Pillsbury's side on this one. I suppose if Pillsbury wanted to be really nice, they could license the term to one or two specific organizations for $1, but even that's risky for them, and they are probably not afraid of a boycott from Slashdot readers.

Re:U.S. laws make Pillsbury do this (1)

ChaosEmerald (178369) | more than 13 years ago | (#493453)

Why was this marked interesting? I'm almost positive it was sarcastic...

Re:simple fix (1)

chainxor (210225) | more than 13 years ago | (#493454)

Old School Assholes[tm] vs. The Prime Assholes :-))

Re:turn pillsbury in for pirating. (1)

athmanb (100367) | more than 13 years ago | (#493457)

Well, it's not like there were no Trojans for Windows which you could use to send emails from another guys' computer...

--------------------------------------

Re:Butt Head Astonomer (1)

Felinoid (16872) | more than 13 years ago | (#493458)

>Anyone have any ideas for an alternative to bake-off?
How about "cooking the DB"..
I even have a spokesperson for it.. a carrtcier on Strenua Inertia [geekcomix.com] Mr.DB [geekcomix.com]

Not in germany (1)

athmanb (100367) | more than 13 years ago | (#493460)

They still have the trademark for Aspirin in germany, and I think you'd be hear from their lawyers pretty soon if you should want to start selling your own Aspirin brand headache pills...

--------------------------------------

stupidity (1)

Dan93 (222999) | more than 13 years ago | (#493461)

They've finally found something more stupid, and with less ground in courts than one-click-shopping.

Re:The solution is clear (1)

BinBoy (164798) | more than 13 years ago | (#493462)

Maybe they'd prefer if everyone used the phrase "Pillsbury Sucks" instead.

Lawyer Monkies, Legal Battles, and the Pep Boys (2)

Boursier (307451) | more than 13 years ago | (#493463)

I didn't know that the term 'bake-off' was owned by Pilsbury. Anyway... it all reminds me of a guy who I talked to a while ago who owned zennet, who would create net pages solely for the purpose of making the blood-thirsty lawyer-monkies chase after him with tons of cease and desist letters, whereafter he would delete the page after responding to them three or four times. He would get some great letterheads and stationary and the like, and had a pretty good collection going, but then, out of no where, in the middle of a legal correspondence with Manny, Mike, and Lo (aka, the Pep Boys) he just vanished off the face of the planet. Server and all. Hmm.

Re:So, what's next? Ans: (1)

Ozwald (83516) | more than 13 years ago | (#493464)

One word: Spam

Ozwald

Dough-Boy cakes (5)

doublem (118724) | more than 13 years ago | (#493465)

This has been posted to the Pilsbury http://www.mealtimeideas.com/bulletinboard/ [mealtimeideas.com]

For those of you who don't know, Pilsbury is sending cease and desist orders to a variety of organizations who use the term "bake-off."

The most recent round of such letters went to computer companies who use the term for a state of software testing. Salon has an article about it online. http://www.salon.com/tech/log/2001/01/19/pillsbury /index.html [salon.com]

Your local school could be next!

Anyway, my computer geek background and my considerable cooking skills inspired me to come up with the following recipe for Dough-Boy cakes.

First, you start with a basic pound cake or Mazitpan recipe. If using a pound cake recipe, you need to add flour to create a very dense dough.

Roll the dough into circles for the head, an oval for the chest and smaller ovals for the legs and arms. If you're feeling creative you can even make the hat and add some food coloring.

The more sadistic among us can shape the head with skeleton features to indicate a cooked Dough-Boy who met a gruesome end, as in the picture here: http://members.tripod.com/laffs/images/Doughboy.jp g [tripod.com]

Serve and enjoy.

http://www.matthewmiller.net [matthewmiller.net]

Just call them.. (2)

nyet (19118) | more than 13 years ago | (#493466)

.."Jack Offs" instead

[/me ducks]

line up, kids. (1)

zencode (234108) | more than 13 years ago | (#493467)

the first person who suggests a boycott of pillsbury gets an atomic wedgie.

My .02,

more details (2)

www.sorehands.com (142825) | more than 13 years ago | (#493468)

I checked the trademark. It refers to cooking and contests.

A trademark only covers specific areas. You can have a trademark in one area, but not have it conflict with an identical trademark in another area.

Look at Apple Records and Apple Computers.

Cooking industry? (2)

Fervent (178271) | more than 13 years ago | (#493469)

I don't know, but wouldn't this affect the cooking industry even more? I mean, I've seen potluck dinners and get togethers where the partipicants refer to the event as a "bake-off" all the time.

They may as well patent the word "bake" while they're at it.

-
-Be a man. Insult me without using an AC.

Oh well (1)

athmanb (100367) | more than 13 years ago | (#493473)

It's not like Pilsbury isn't gonna get their ass kicked all over the place by the Judges...

A bit soon for boycott calls, IMHO
--------------------------------------

Re:Time for a boycott. (2)

doublem (118724) | more than 13 years ago | (#493474)

You'd also have to boycott Haggen Dazs, Green Giant, Old El Paso, Totino's, Progresso, Jeno's and Martha White.

Cool! I'm already boycotting them and didn't even know it.

In all seriousness though, I would like to given them a chance to respond before a boycott. (As if little 'ole me boycotting them will make much difference to them)

I say if they don't apologize by Tuesday we start the political activism. I've had it with all these #)&$@ corporations deciding their bottom line is more important than right and wrong. I don't want to live under Corporate Feudalism anymore.

http://www.matthewmiller.net [matthewmiller.net]

Poor choice of words. (1)

rbright (54766) | more than 13 years ago | (#493487)

From the article:

"No one is going to confuse protocol testing with cookies," says Brian Rosen, an engineer who organizes bake-offs to test a Net telephony protocol.

Well...

Re:more details (1)

alecto (42429) | more than 13 years ago | (#493488)

Unfortunately, the 1996 Federal Trademark Dilution Act changed this. Look here [umn.edu] for a nice discussion of the deceit theory (IMHO the only legitimate basis for trademark enforcement) and the dilution theory (which allows the sort of ludicrous crap Pillsbury is pulling). Another law bought and paid for by Corporate America.

Re:Article gets it wrong. (2)

The.Tempest (103645) | more than 13 years ago | (#493489)

You are right, but you are also wrong. Although "Kleenex" is a registered trademark, and you can't sell a product called "Kleenex", everyone still says "Kleenex" when the mean "facial tissue" or whatnot. A bake-off isn't a profit thing, it's just a word for a bunch of engineers getting together and test their latest creations. If you were at a friend's house, and you asked "Where are the kleenex?", and he points to a box of generic brand facial tissues, can Kleenes sue you? I sure hope not...

Is it lawsuit season? (2)

JWhitlock (201845) | more than 13 years ago | (#493490)

Is it just me, or are there a lot of these kind of lawsuits going around now? I know there always were, but it appears there have been an escalation lately. Namely, big companies suing web-sites and indiviuals to stop using trademarked names, such as Nintendo suing sites using the Pokemon name.

Has there been a new law that has forced companies to more aggresively pursue copyrights and trademarks? Did all the lawyers make a resolution to cause more agony in the new year? Or is this just business as usual, and we're just noticing it more now?

I understand a bit about trademarks, that you have to get out a stick and enforce it every once in awhile or you lose it, but this seems a little ridiculous.

Or, perhaps, there is a new product in the works - maybe a Pokemon / Dough Boy crossover? Watch the show, buy the trading cards, eat the cereal, bake the character-shaped cookies?

If I'm absolutly correct about that last one, sorry Slashdot. You can remove this comment if the lawyers knock on your door

it's their right to protect their trademark (1)

ism (180693) | more than 13 years ago | (#493491)

the problem with trademarks is that once you allow some people to use it, you pretty much lose your right to it. as i haven't seen the actual letters, i don't know if they are merely notifications that pillsbury owns the trademark or if they are actual intent-to-sue letters. i'm guessing they're only the former, which would be akin to the ads coca-cola ran in several magazines in the 70's and 80's for their "coke" trademark.

whether or not their case would stand up in court, if it ever got that far, is another question.

But wait... (1)

portege00 (110414) | more than 13 years ago | (#493492)

...the Dough Boy does not know KUNG FOO!

Re:Should we write Pillsbury (5)

sjames (1099) | more than 13 years ago | (#493493)

So should we contact Pillsbury about this or do we even have a right to? Are we even qualified since we are all not lawyers and we do not have the "all" the facts? I ask this because some upbraded my posting of Nintendo contact info in an earlier discussion this past week. Some did not like the idea of an executive get slash-dotted by all the people writing and sending email.

Many of us (including me) are not lawyers. That precludes our practice of law. We are still members of the society that Pillsbury operates within, and thus are entitled to moral and ethical opinions. We have every right to voice our opinions, and to call upon fellow citizens for action (such as boycotts and letter/email writing). Pillsbury may listen or not as it chooses. It can ignore the threat of a boycott or take it seriously as they choose.

I believe that posting corperate contact info and using it is the right thing to do. That right stops at posting home phone numbers and making harassing calls at 3A.M.

Real link for shake-and-bake software (1)

torinth (216077) | more than 13 years ago | (#493494)

Ok. I know it was only part of a joke in the original post, but as a previous developer of SnB, I've gotta pass along the link to the actual lab and software:

http://www.hwi.buffalo.edu/SnB/ [buffalo.edu]

Re:How... (1)

griffjon (14945) | more than 13 years ago | (#493495)

OK, I retract my disbelief. Have they been haxored yet? I wouldn't expect a company suing over bakeoffs to have all the latest patches.

Bake-off then (1)

debreuil (93559) | more than 13 years ago | (#493496)

Someone should tell them to go bake themselves..

Re:Article gets it wrong. (2)

sjames (1099) | more than 13 years ago | (#493497)

This is such a stupid myth that would never be propagated but for poor fact-checking.

Perhaps Asprin would have been a better example.

Re:simple fix (1)

coolgeek (140561) | more than 13 years ago | (#493498)

How about just upstaging Pillsbury by calling these engineer pow-wows a Bake-o-Rama[tm] instead? That ought to piss them off more than this pisses us off. hehehehe

Sometimes the best way to win is to be a better asshole than the assholes.

Re:Article gets it wrong. (1)

Tuzanor (125152) | more than 13 years ago | (#493499)

It's the same thing with rollerblades. Nobody calles them "inline skates"

Re:Article gets it wrong. (1)

ism (180693) | more than 13 years ago | (#493515)

just because you do not profit from using someone else's trademark does not make you immune to the laws. there is the issue of "blurring," which is weakining the connection between the trademark and the trademark owner's goods and/or services. there's also the issue of "tarnishment," where the use of the trademark puts the trademark owner's goods and/or services in a bad light.

while asking a friend for a "kleenex" or a "coke" (when you mean any soft drink) probably won't get you into any trouble, it doesn't mean it can't. if you were running a restaurant and put a heading of "coke" instead of ,"soft drinks" or "sodas," you would be very open to a lawsuit from coca-cola.

trademark owners would prefer if you didn't use their trademarks as the generic name. ads campaigns are actually run to prevent dilution. vaseline, coca-cola, and kleenex have had massive efforts in this respect.

Bayer AG still owns "Aspirin" TM in most of world. (2)

isaac (2852) | more than 13 years ago | (#493516)

Bayer AG still owns the "Aspirin" trademark in most of the world. They lost their trademark on Aspirin in the US not as a result of disuse, but of WWII. Check out aspirin.com [aspirin.com] for yourself.

-Isaac

What about the word "Spam" in the email context? (1)

joneshenry (9497) | more than 13 years ago | (#493517)

A brief search on google [google.com] revealed the following (admittedly old) link about spam and email [directmag.com] . I'm curious whether the reasoning would apply to the present case.

Someone's been sniffing the bread too long (2)

Chas (5144) | more than 13 years ago | (#493518)

When are these guys going to learn you can't copyright common terminology like this?


Chas - The one, the only.
THANK GOD!!!

I'm afraid. (1)

DataSquid (33187) | more than 13 years ago | (#493519)

Maybe now I'll get charged every time I get screwed during my engineering midterms/exams. After all, I'm paying for it so it could be seen as soliciting sexual services.

I know why theyre doing this (humor) (2)

doublem (118724) | more than 13 years ago | (#493520)

<humor>
Pilsbury Legal Offices:

The head lawyer rises at the mahogany table and begins to speak. "Gentlemen, we have to crack down on the unwashed masses using our trademark terms. The NAZI 'final solution' practices taught us that we need to start small. If we jump straight to suing the schools who dilute our trademarks, we'll have a public outcry, but if they're the last stage of the plan, no one will whimper because they'll know it's just part of the program. The question is, where do we begin?"

One of the drones raises his hand, "Sir, I think we need a group that the masses already fear. People who are ridiculed and downtrodden, yet not the focal point of sympathy. We need to start with a group who is the focal point of many people's frustration, rage and fear, people who are misunderstood and picked on by the popular people who everyone looks up to."

The head lawyer frowns at the drone, "And where are we going to find a group of people who use our trade marks, are not very popular and are either hated , feared or detested by the masses?"

The drone smiles. "Computer geeks use the term 'bake-off' for software testing."

The head lawyer's eyes light up. "Drone 2974, you're a genius! Start the cease and desist letters immediately!"
</humor>

[slashdot.org]

When does a slang term become public domain? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#493521)

That's all this boils-down to. 'Bake-off' maybe trademarked, but it as become an integral part of English colloqial language. Should someone go out an trademark 'Blast-off', 'To the moon', or pick any other common yet trademarked term you use in everyday communication.

It's not the lawyers that are ruining the world, it's marketting. They think they invent everything.

Sorry, WWI. Aspirin trademark ceded at Versailles! (3)

isaac (2852) | more than 13 years ago | (#493522)

Sorry, Bayer didn't lose their Aspirin trademark in WWII - it was actually stripped from them (at least within the US, France, UK, and Russia) by the Treaty of Versailles, signed in 1919 at the end of WWI!

Another trademark was stripped from Bayer in that treaty - Heroin.

See about.com's aspirin page [about.com] .

-Isaac

Re:turn pillsbury in for pirating. (1)

Lord Omlette (124579) | more than 13 years ago | (#493523)

Funny, yes, but before anyone gets any ideas, remember, you're messing with the FBI here. You're using a computer to mess with the FBI... Once they find out you've been lying, they'll come down on you as if you're Osama bin Ladin * pi. So don't do it from a library, do it from an ex-girlfriends comp or something...
--
Peace,
Lord Omlette
ICQ# 77863057

Details? (2)

Froomkin (18607) | more than 13 years ago | (#493524)

It would be really nice if someone who got one of these threatening letters could post it. Certainly there is nothing in the Salon article to suggest that the Pillsbury complaint has a shred of merit, or that the case isn't being brought years too late. But without a copy of the actual claims, it's always a little dangerous to speculate; reporters sometimes miss something.

That said, I am having a lot of trouble even imagining what a meritorious claim for Pillsbury would look like on these facts.

Public relations fiasco, anyone?

So, what's next? (3)

TDScott (260197) | more than 13 years ago | (#493526)

The fabulous Baker Boys?

Sherlock Holmes (who lived at Baker Street)?

Jerry Rafferty (who played "Baker Street")?

Kevin Bake-on?

Who knows? Lawyers know no bounds...

The solution is clear (5)

jayhawk88 (160512) | more than 13 years ago | (#493527)

I don't think the phrase "b4k3-0ffz" is copyrighted yet.

OMG (1)

Jester998 (156179) | more than 13 years ago | (#493529)

I think that we should start enforcing our "free trade", et cetera, economy and start shooting those who would oppose it. I think that starting off with the CEO of Pillsbury is a good start: He's trying to monopolize the market for the use of these words. Oh, what a jumbled world we live in... // Jester

In related news... (2)

Tsian (70839) | more than 13 years ago | (#493531)

In related news, Bill Gates of microsoft announced he would be filling suit against the Pilsbury Dough-boy for wrongfully using the word "dough", which bill claims is the sole owner of.

Also in related News, Creative Labs had announced the sending out of Cease and Decists to Orchestra's around the world as a method to have said orchestra's stop blasting sound.
------------------------------------

Here's what my co-worker suggested ... (2)

operagost (62405) | more than 13 years ago | (#493535)

"Let's have a f*** off instead!"

Next in line.... (2)

abrink (153323) | more than 13 years ago | (#493538)

Whats next in line? Them fining school "bake-offs" and such?

fresh dough boy (5)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#493539)

mmmm... [tripod.com]

Re:Details? (3)

sjames (1099) | more than 13 years ago | (#493547)

I'm sure you're wrong about the case having no merit

Actually, trademarks only apply to other uses in the same trade. So they will first have to show that the geek bake-off is in fact trade (believable), and that the trade is in food service (never in a million years).

I'm sure Pillsbury's lawyers know very well that the claim is absurd at best and are relying on intimidation to do what the law won't.

Personally, I think lawyers who participate in that sort of intimidation should be disciplined by the Bar or the courts. It's not much better than robbing a bank w/ a toy gun.

Victims: The folk who sued for "Java"? (2)

KMSelf (361) | more than 13 years ago | (#493548)

You know, it's really tough sometimes to figure out who to cheer for [netfunny.com] (yes, that's a parody, but with not a little basis in reality).

On a more serious note, isn't the phrase "bake-off" sufficiently descriptive that it may contradict guidelines on what is and isn't trademarkable? As the OSI [opensource.org] found with their failed attempt to secure the "Open Source" trademark?

What part of "Gestalt" don't you understand?

Pillsbury.... (1)

yetisalmon (70744) | more than 13 years ago | (#493549)

One thing I concluded from this article is that whoever owns Pillsbury must be really dumb. This is seriously aggrivating. Right when you think some people in this world, that own companies, might have some common sense in understanding...

Re:U.S. laws make Pillsbury do this (1)

coolgeek (140561) | more than 13 years ago | (#493550)

I'm sorry I have to totally disagree with you. There are way too many examples of prior art utilizing the word "off" after a verb to create a noun with an exclamatory or sensational sound to it.

Here's a couple:
run off - when the snow melts on the mountains, or a way to settle a closely disputed race.
show off - a person in extreme need of external validation.
fuck off - a person who spends more time playing at the office than working.

Bake off is nothing like terms such as xerox, kleenex, etc. because it is two commonly used words.

keep lawyers on a leash! (1)

rebelcool (247749) | more than 13 years ago | (#493551)

See what happens when you let them loose?

Re:Dough-Boy cakes (1)

Jae (14657) | more than 13 years ago | (#493552)

actually no - apparently

thanks for your message!

Your message will be reviewed by Pillsbury within one business day before it is posted to the Bulletin Boar the posts go into some submission queue before they are actually posted.

Reality catches up to satire... (5)

JanneM (7445) | more than 13 years ago | (#493553)

Some time ago, this [lectlaw.com] text circulated arount the net. It was funny then - how times change...

Re:Next in line.... (1)

ahknight (128958) | more than 13 years ago | (#493554)

Nahh, just making them license the term. =)
--

possible solution (1)

brad3378 (155304) | more than 13 years ago | (#493556)

Somebody should have their name legally changed to "Bake Off"
Then everybody can claim that "Bake Offs" are named after Mr. Off.

Or maybe just do as somebody else suggested, and rename it. I propose "Bae Koff"

It's all Netscape's fault (3)

Raul Acevedo (15878) | more than 13 years ago | (#493558)

After all, they invented web cookies.
----------

You know your lawyers are overpaid if... (2)

DJGreg (28663) | more than 13 years ago | (#493561)

If the legal dept. in your company is forced to create imaginary threats in order to justify it's existance and expense, then you have larger internal problems to worry about than somebody using your "name".

No docs online (1)

DoorFrame (22108) | more than 13 years ago | (#493563)

Unfortunately there doesn't seem to be a copy of the Cease and Desist letter online, but you can see the patent here [uspto.gov] .

Funny, things are already changing though, if you look at this bake-off/cache-off page [ircache.net]

While they're at it... (2)

_Ludwig (86077) | more than 13 years ago | (#493565)

They better get in touch with these folks, [yahoo.com] too.

Time for a boycott. (3)

doublem (118724) | more than 13 years ago | (#493567)

Dear God in Heaven, PLEASE let this be a joke. This is a hoax, right? Pillsbury isn't REALLY this stupid and asinine, is it? Their lawyeres aren't really this insane are they????????

I'll just have to boycott them. Whose with me?

Come on, you know being boycotted by a group that probably makes up 40% of their business would hurt the suckers, and it's not like boycotting the MPAA because there are a LOT of alternatives to Pillsbury products!

Let's go to the bulletin board [mealtimeideas.com] on their web site and post what we think of them, shall we??

http://www.matthewmiller.net [matthewmiller.net]

ok, so do we boycott or what? (1)

ignorant_newbie (104175) | more than 13 years ago | (#493569)

they suggest a boycott in the article... "techno-wenies against the dough boy". we've got to start somewhere, and this looks like a good place to make a stand: it's completly obvious that there's no merit. the two industries are so unreleated that it'll be a clean decision with no questions.

just as we're thought things couldn't get more ... (1)

porky_pig_jr (129948) | more than 13 years ago | (#493573)

just as we're thought things couldn't get more stupid - George W Bush is elected as US President. From here expect things to go downhill.

Re:Dough-Boy cakes (1)

Jae (14657) | more than 13 years ago | (#493575)

doh - bad form...

apparently there is a submission queue and posts need to be approved before they are available for viewing.

too bad!

(above is "thank you" response from message board)

Stupidity par excellance. (4)

chris_sawtell (10326) | more than 13 years ago | (#493577)

They are just doing to get World-Wide publicity for free, and all you dotty slashers have fallen for it, hook line and sinker.

Butt Head Astonomer (1)

metoc (224422) | more than 13 years ago | (#493578)

When Apple was sued for using the word Sagan as a code-name for a project, Apple rename it Butt-Head Astronomer.

Anyone have any ideas for an alternative to bake-off?

Re:Is it lawsuit season? (1)

MajroMax (112652) | more than 13 years ago | (#493580)

If I'm absolutly correct about that last one, sorry Slashdot. You can remove this comment if the lawyers knock on your door

BZZZZZZZT!

Congratulations, but you have probably ensured that something like that could never happen. (Let me be the first to say 'Thank God!')

As the current judiciary interprets the law, that is now 'your' idea - if they go and do it, it can easily be taken that they were ripping off your idea, especially if it can be shown that any of them read Slashdot. This has happened in the literature/screenwriter's world - J. Michael Straczynski recently (flamed isn't the right word... 'obliterated' sounds more like it) someone who posted to rec.arts.sf.tv.bab5.moderated with a possible story idea for a possible future series, relaying the tale of an author who had to can a novel because of the same/similar thing.

So the moral of the story here, folks, is to come up with every possible Pokemon and/or Pilsbury idea possible, post it here, and forward it to the heads of the respective companies - then they'll be able to do nothing. :)

Re:Bake Off (1)

rousseau (6492) | more than 13 years ago | (#493581)

There should be a moderation category for "Hilarious"

;-)

cookies? doh! (1)

fudboy (199618) | more than 13 years ago | (#493582)

From the article:

" ...No one is going to confuse protocol testing with cookies... "

umm, what if the protocol testing is regarding the cookies in yer browser? I'm already confused.


:)Fudboy

Re:You know your lawyers are overpaid if... (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#493583)

Perhaps if they had some more product liability lawsuits to occupy them. Maybe someone could burn themselves on a hot biscuit...

vocabulary correction (1)

brad3378 (155304) | more than 13 years ago | (#493585)

Being a somewhat newbie techie, I don't always
know what certain things should be callled
I commend Pilsbury for helping me add to my
tech education. I now know what to call "events where engineers get together to test their implementations against each other."

I gotta wonder...
Is it possible they're just doing this for publicity?
After all, Spam is now a household name. This is just some scam to sell more cookies. Buy stock in Pillsbury now!

Ask Slashdot Lawyers: (3)

perdida (251676) | more than 13 years ago | (#493587)

Any LAWYERS in the house?

If so what on earth are you doing about this?

Lawyers follow money, it's true. But lawsuits like these are so widely percieved as absurd that I don't see how so many lawyers are taking the risk of bringing up these cases.

Please inform me! Is this similar to what can often happen in technical fields, when some buzzword or management strategy breezes through the magazine circut like a typhus epidemic, causing thousands of lawyers to chase trademark, copyright and patent cases all at once?

Or is there some movement in lawyers' organizations to protect people's rights, something like a jurisprudential EFF? [eff.org]

turn pillsbury in for pirating. (5)

small_dick (127697) | more than 13 years ago | (#493589)

Finally, a use for anonymous cowards.

All you ACs out there, go down to the public or school library and sneak your way onto a browser.

Wear a disguise, since they all have time lapse video now. Shave your legs so they are smooth and sexy, and wear a cheerleader outfit or something. Practice singing "We got spirit, yes we do, we got spirit, how about you".

Email an anonymous tip to the FBI, Microsoft and the SPI (or whatever that place is) stating that you are a sysadmin for Pillsbury, and your boss made you do 250 illegal installs of Office and NT last Wednesday in the Legal Dept. of the Pillsbury Corporate Offices.

Hee, Hee, Hee.

There goes my career (1)

jsdkl (48221) | more than 13 years ago | (#493593)

And I wanted to be an engineer because of the free cookies!
-----
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