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Spam Lawsuit's Last Laugh is at Hormel's Expense

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the junk-email-junk-email-eggs-and-junk-email dept.

Spam 172

Brian Cartmell writes "An article at the Minneapolis — StarTribune site covers a significant setback for the Hormel food company, in a case that's being closely watched by security companies across the country. Seattle-based Spam Arrest has gone up against the creator of the food substance in court, fighting for the right to use the word spam in its company name. The US Trademark Trial and Appeal board has sided with the spam fighters, agreeing that consumers of the Spam product would never confuse the food with junk email. 'Derek Newman, Spam Arrest's attorney, said the decision opens the door for many other anti-spam software companies ... "Spam Arrest fought this battle for the whole software industry," Newman said.'"

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172 comments

How very noble of them (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21534877)

Too bad they spam people who use their service or email their customers: http://www.politechbot.com/p-04457.html [politechbot.com]

Re:How very noble of them (1)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#21535891)

Then perhaps they should change their name to "Spam, spam, sausage, egg and spam. That's not got a lot of spam in it arrest"?

-mcgrew

(Spam sucks but it's better than.. er, hell I don't know but it has to be better than something.)

Re:How very noble of them (0, Offtopic)

SargentDU (1161355) | more than 6 years ago | (#21536171)

sm62704 said "(Spam sucks but it's better than.. er, hell I don't know but it has to be better than something.)" Spam is so much better than starving to death! There are many things worse than eating spam, expressly when you can spice up baked spam with cloves.

At whose expense? (4, Insightful)

chuck (477) | more than 6 years ago | (#21534887)

I think the point of the ruling is that it's NOT at Hormel's expense, since no one confuses junk mail with canned meat.

Plus, I don't know if it should really be considered a victory for the software industry that companies don't have to come up with creative names.

Re:At whose expense? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21535089)

Creativity isn't really the issue, it's trademarking of words that are commonly used.

SPAM was a potted meat UNTIL it became part of the neolexicon... and hormel wanted to
cash in on the name despite (or because of) the declining popularity of the meat(ish) product.

If Hormel had actively tried to market its meat product USING the new definition of the word,
perhaps in a clever TV or print campaign, they might actually capitalize.

Instead, meh... They try to push the legal envelope and get a paper cut. Potted meatheads.

Re:At whose expense? (4, Funny)

somersault (912633) | more than 6 years ago | (#21535197)

Well their cans have cut enough people anyway, serves them right.

And spam is spam precisely because of the negative connotations. How are they going to market that? Buy our processed meat! It's like junk mail, but you can eat it!

Re:At whose expense? (1)

purpledinoz (573045) | more than 6 years ago | (#21535893)

I find it hilarious that word Spam is used to describe junk e-mail. It's unfortunate for SPAM, the shitty meat product. It reminds me of the diet product called AYDS, before AIDS became a well-known disease. Those AYDS commercials are now comedy classics! Google it.

Re:At whose expense? (3, Informative)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 6 years ago | (#21536193)

And spam is spam precisely because of the negative connotations.

Well... not exactly. Spam email got its tag from Monty Python's Spam skit*, not from someone's recollection of how SPAM tastes (At least not directly).

*(if you are a true geek, you would know exactly why that would be an apt application).

FWIW, SPAM (the potted meat) is still considered a tasty thing along the left-hand side of the Pacific Rim.

/P

Re:At whose expense? (5, Informative)

Jay L (74152) | more than 6 years ago | (#21536033)

and hormel wanted to cash in on the name despite (or because of) the declining popularity of the meat(ish) product... Instead, meh... They try to push the legal envelope and get a paper cut. Potted meatheads.

Wow, you really just got that information from a doctor with a glove, didn't you?

Hormel actually 'got it' pretty early on, and had a good sense of humor about it, too. They're in a bind, of course, because they don't want to lose the trademark for the meat, but they don't want to lose the goodwill of the community by acting all RIAA-like. (Ironically, their meat itself is NOT in a bind. (Little sausage-casing humor there.))

So at first, they said "Look, just use lower case letters for the e-mail, and we'll use capital letters for our product." But that didn't really work, because nobody could remember which was which, and everyone always likes to capitalize Internet terms that aren't acronyms.

So then they said "OK, just don't trademark it yourself."

Now they're losing that case. (Ironically, their meat itself is NOT in a case. (Little sausage-binding humor there.))

Re:At whose expense? (1)

zoloto (586738) | more than 6 years ago | (#21535769)

I had to look up who Hormel was. It's not like many people actually eat that crap, at least, not in my circles.

Re:At whose expense? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21535985)

Welcome to adulthood... or are you not there yet?

Oh I beg to differ! (4, Funny)

Rik Sweeney (471717) | more than 6 years ago | (#21534913)

consumers of the Spam product would never confuse the food with junk email

I went to see Spam-a-lot in the theatre. Much to my horror it wasn't about junk email or an out of control food product, it was about some bloody knights or something like that.

I'm going to appeal.

Time to file a lawsuit then. (1)

wiredog (43288) | more than 6 years ago | (#21535193)

spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam


Lameness filter encountered.
Your comment violated the "postercomment" compression filter. Try less whitespace and/or less repetition. Comment aborted.

Settlement suggestion (5, Funny)

ciaohound (118419) | more than 6 years ago | (#21534927)

Spam Arrest could change their name to Arrest Arrest Arrest Arrest Spam Arrest; that's got less spam in it.

About that Icon... (4, Insightful)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 6 years ago | (#21534957)

consumers of the Spam product would never confuse the food with junk email.

And yet Slashdot still has a spam (note lowercase 's') icon which looks like a piggy with a brick of presumably Spam as part of its body [slashdot.org], where formerly the icon was indeed a can of Spam.

Well played Slasdot!

Re:About that Icon... (1)

nine-times (778537) | more than 6 years ago | (#21535151)

Also, what do a lot of spam-blockers call good e-mail? Ham. So they're implying that spam is like ham, except that it's bad and you don't want it.

Re:About that Icon... (2, Interesting)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#21535183)

IIRC, Slashdot received a c&d to remove the can of spam a while back, but I can't seem to find a link to the story anywhere. Hmph.

Re:About that Icon... (1)

Abreu (173023) | more than 6 years ago | (#21535543)

Well, maybe after the lawsuits over we can go back to the can as an icon...

Re:About that Icon... (1)

SQLGuru (980662) | more than 6 years ago | (#21536175)

Nope, that would be a different fight.

This fight is like a battle between McDonald's Brothers Hardware (probably locally called McDonald's) and McDonald's the fast food chain. Can two companies have similar product names if they don't have overlapping markets? Usually, the answer is yes.....barring certain circumstances. (I'm pretty sure McDonald's Brothers Hardware couldn't sell burgers in the in-store deli.)

The fight about an image of the can would be pure trademark infringment.

Layne

Well, that's just sad. (2, Insightful)

wattrlz (1162603) | more than 6 years ago | (#21534967)

I wonder if using the term, " Pepsi" to refer to bait-and-switch schemes would fare as well in a court of law.

Re:Well, that's just sad. (1)

nine-times (778537) | more than 6 years ago | (#21535065)

What about adding "dys" as a prefix to pepsi and using the resulting word to mean "stomach ache". I'm sure the makers of Pepsi don't want the product associated with stomach aches.

You're thinking of 'dyspepsia' (3, Informative)

DarrenR114 (6724) | more than 6 years ago | (#21535357)

You missed the 'a' at the end.

The history of Pepsi was that it was introduced as a curative for dyspepsia, so the makers of Pepsi probably wouldn't mind a little publicity on their product's history.

On a related note - Dr. Pepper was created for the same purpose, using prune juice in their recipe.

Always look on the bright side of life (1)

williambbertram (958094) | more than 6 years ago | (#21534975)

do-do. do-do-do-do-do-do. Next they'll sue Monty Python. Hooray for no ownership of generic and ambiguous words! Spam spam spam spam spam. Spam spam spam spam spam. Spam. Spam spam spam spam.

'Spam'(tm) wasn't a generic or ambiguous word (0, Flamebait)

DarrenR114 (6724) | more than 6 years ago | (#21535269)

Before Hormel introduced the canned meat (a combination of pork shoulder and ham,) the word 'Spam' did not exist.

What this ruling says is that the creators of an original work really have no control over their work.

It doesn't surprise me that the current bunch of Slashdotters obviously are clueless and have been so ever since Robin Miller's crew took over.

Re:'Spam'(tm) wasn't a generic or ambiguous word (1)

cumin (1141433) | more than 6 years ago | (#21536595)

Having my product name become popular, no matter how popular, does not give other people the right to use it without my permission. Hormel was nice when they let people use the term spam, but they didn't have to be. They did defend it at first, but backed off due to strong public opinion. I hope they win on appeal.

Spam may be used to refer to UBE, but that is only because Spam was (and arguably is) a part of our culture, and can't be seen as anything but a huge product success. Hormel used to object to the use of the word spam to refer to UBE, but they backed off out of respect for public opinion. If Hormel is gracious enough to allow the use of the term to refer to things they have nothing to do with, just to get along, it doesn't mean that they give up the right to be the only company with the right to market a product with the name they came up with and popularized.

HORMEL, READ THIS: The obvious solution is to find a way to create your own anti-ube product and market it as "From the makers of good Spam, more goodness in defeating email spam." Heck the product can suck, but you'll have a valid defense against anybody trying to use your product name then, because you can prove your company has an interest in protecting their trademarked name precisely because it could cause confusion. Add a label to to every can of Spam while you're at it, saying "Spam in a can is good, email spam is bad, visit www.hormel.com/spam to download recipes for your software and stove!"

Re:Always look on the bright side of life (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21535343)

It's a trademark fight, you stupid buttdouche. Hormel does not object to the casual use of "spam" to describe junk email and the like. This lawsuit is over Spam Arrest company incorporating the term "Spam" into their trademarked product name. So the whole fight is over ownership of a name containting the word "Spam".

You should also look up the defintion of the word "generic"... wait, forget it, you're fucking hopeless. Fucktarded dimbulb.

Re:Always look on the bright side of life (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 6 years ago | (#21536105)

...and to be fair to Hormel, they are pretty much required to do this.

They have to defend their trademark or risk losing it entirely.

Re:Always look on the bright side of life (2, Informative)

DCTooTall (870500) | more than 6 years ago | (#21535421)

Actually something that I kinda find interesting is some stuff within the second part of the Article. Appearently not only is hormel the sponsor of Monty Python's Spamalot, but they even show Python videos within their Spam museum.

It also indicated that they accept and have no problem with the meaning that the word 'spam' has taken in recent years, and with it's use as the slang term (in lowercase). Their issue comes from the use of the word "Spam" (capitilized) in trademarks since it was a word and trademark they created back in 1937.

IMHO... it's basically a case where they see the honor/flattery in having their product's name become so commonplace in today's society....in large part due us old-school geeks love of Monty Python and applying the term to unwanted emails WAAAAYYYYYY back in the early days.... But they also recognize that we all know that spam is unwanted email and SPAM is a lunch meat product. They also get the free advertising from people who may wonder how unwanted email got it's name, and creates a bit of brand recognition in that people are more likely to know about their product today because of the name. But, if other companies start using the name Spam in their company names or trademarks, it very likely could weaken their position.

In some ways... I kinda see it as a case of 'protect it or lose it'. Just like with certain other industries or businesses, sometimes a company needs to make a (sometimes) unpopular move to attempt to prevent unlicensed use of their trademark or copyrighted images (think cartoon characters...etc), otherwise they risk losing the ability to protect their position in the future. For example, Say a hospital uses a popular cartoon character in some buttons or a Tshirt, but didn't get permission. Said company may go thru the process of a cease and desist based off the protecting their position reasoning. Because they might believe however that there is no commercial gain for the user, and possibly even want to be charitable to the cause, they may then give the hospital a license/permission to use the exact same property free of charge (and also for the advertising potential). If however they did nothing to prevent the usage or try to protect their property in the first place.......sometime down the road somebody could attempt to use that exact same image in such a way that would harm their position (commercial gain... people could associate them with an undesirable position/company/whatever..etc). When they then attempt to put a stop to THIS use of their image, The court could easily find based off the previous uncontested usages that the original owner no longer has the right or power to claim exclusive ownership and control of the image. The logic would be that their lack of control in other situations would indicate that their forfeiting their right to control it has allowed said image to become part of the public domain or cultural awareness.

While that may sound kinda messed up, that's the legal system we live in. It also may not be as big a deal now for someone like hormel and SPAM... but think about some of the old cartoon characters and discontinued product logos from the years past. There are many which are now considered public domain or which people don't think twice about using even though technically they are still under protection, simply because the company which owns the image/logo hasn't bothered to protect it. Then we have images and characters which are older or from the same period which are still considered protected because the owner has gone thru the trouble of protecting it.




Man.... I really go off on long-winded tangents.... don't I?

Re:Always look on the bright side of life (1)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#21536097)

Man.... I really go off on long-winded tangents.... don't I?

Damn, Grandpa, and the kids say I'm to old to post at slashdot! Weren't they going to legalize potted meat? And cracked corn? Speaking of which, where did I put that extra prostitute, I know I had a spare around here somewhere. Shit, I bet I left her at the office. Hope the boss doesn't find her, he'll spill ketchup or something all over her and she's the cleanest one I've got,

What were we talking about again? Oh, spam. What do you call spam with one eye? Spammy Davis Junior

-mcgrew

Re:Always look on the bright side of life (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21536251)

Man.... I really go off on long-winded tangents.... don't I?
I rather enjoyed it, and others might even consider it as spam. The good kind of spam. You know. The sweet sweet juicy kind with hot grizzle sliding down your throat - eventually wedging microscopic pork particles in betweenst the ruffles of your mind as your eyes wander off into peaceful fixation at some distant blur for a brief spell. Mmmm. Food spam.

You make some good points there.

While that may sound kinda messed up, that's the legal system we live in.
Unfortunately, it is. Yes, hormel should own every bit to this name trademark. Did they not birth it? In a relevant (albeit extreme) contrast, suppose I created some popcorn product made from GMA nano fiber enhanced corn. I call it Pop-n-Slop. Over time, consumers describe my popcorn as very soft. So soft in fact, it must be the microscopic fibers which make it literally slide down your throat. And in good manner, in short order it quickly adopts the lexicon as simply, Microsoft - akin to "Spam email" in casual reference, eventually Microsoft Pop-n-Slop. No troll intended here, fellas. Just bear with me here for a second. Just using them as an example. Put down your torches and steak knives. Anyways, Microsoft Pop-n-Slop eventually becomes extremely popular. So much so, Pop-n-Slop in fact replaces Soylent Green at some point in the near Apocalyptic future - circa 2012. However, a few years later, no one seems to be able to stop eating it. Studies find that Pop-n-Slop is indeed quite addictive. You eat Microsoft Pop-n-Slop whether you like it or not.

At some point, Microsoft files name trademark lawsuit against Pop-n-Slop. Hmm. What to do? You fill in the rest...

Food? (3, Insightful)

Akaihiryuu (786040) | more than 6 years ago | (#21535015)

Since when is Spam considered food? Sorry, couldn't resist.

A delicacy (4, Interesting)

spun (1352) | more than 6 years ago | (#21535535)

Actually, Spam is considered a delicacy in the Pacific Islands. In Hawaii, you can buy Spam sushi from the manapua man. He's a guy who drives around in an ice cream truck selling pork buns, candy, and spam products. I shit you not. Some claim that the Pacific Islander's spam mania comes from their cannabilistic heritage and Spam's taste resemblance to the other, other white meat. I sort of doubt it, I think it's more of a cargo cult type of thing. Magical meat in a can that never goes bad had to have impressed the heck out of tropical islanders when it first arrived.

Re:A delicacy (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21536029)

I'll back up your comment.

I've been to Hawaii once while my friend was in the airforce. I was amazed that the main meat product in Hawaii among the people that live there was spam. The reason told to me was because everything in Hawaii has to imported (except pineapples of course), which makes everything there very expensive, fresh meat especially. Spam is used as a substitute for meat in many of their dishes. One of the favorite snacks among the Hawaiian people is a matsubi: spam on top of a rice patty wrapped with seaweed (think of spam sushi). You can find this thing everywhere, even on the golf course!

Re:A delicacy (1)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#21536185)

Actually, Spam is considered a delicacy in the Pacific Islands

Find the vilest, most barf-provoking thing you can think of and it's a delicacy somewhere. Snails, certain funguses, raw fish, spam, all sorts of disgusting stuff is considered not only "food" but "delicacy".

Speaking of disgusting things people put in their mouths (don't go there now Sally) why do they call McDonald's and Burger King "fast food?" It's never fast and you can hardly call it "food".

-mcgrew

Re:A delicacy (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21536611)

bigot.

Re:A delicacy (2, Informative)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 6 years ago | (#21536507)

The military was camped out on those islands a lot and one thing they brought was SPAM. SPAM was a common food in the military and the locals had fairly easy access to SPAM and eventually took a liking to it.

Re:A delicacy (2, Informative)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 6 years ago | (#21536539)

Some claim that the Pacific Islander's spam mania comes from their cannabilistic heritage and Spam's taste resemblance to the other, other white meat.
What I've read is that Spam is currently popular where two things intersect:

1. A history of pork consumption among the resident people (which is true for the Pacific isles) and
2. American military presence from the 1930s(?) through the 1970s(?).

I can't remember the date ranges, but this is true for Hawaii, the Philippines, etc. -- it's tied to the US Military's procurement contracts with Hormel.

I'd also like to note that the popularity of pork has been linked to cannibalism as well... but I'm not sure how well that theory holds up.

Where did it come from? (4, Interesting)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 6 years ago | (#21535053)

I've heard it's from the Monty Python "Spam" sketch, but I've also heard it's a British thing from WWII - "Spam - everybody gets it, nobody wants it." - Does anybody have a definitive origin? Like the bug in Grace Hoppers log book?

Re:Where did it come from? (1)

Nos. (179609) | more than 6 years ago | (#21535171)

Generally I belive its the Monty Python skit, which is what wikipedia says [wikipedia.org] as well.

Re:Where did it come from? (1)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | more than 6 years ago | (#21535513)

The monty python sketch was funny because it referred to the earlier cultural references to Spam... otherwise they'd have made a sketch about eggs or something.

However the modern use of spam is derived from the sketch - the repetition of 'spam' mirroring directly my experience of reading my inbox some mornings :p

Re:Where did it come from? (1)

rucs_hack (784150) | more than 6 years ago | (#21535261)

It always was unwelcome, and remained so long after the war, being a food of last resort that turns up when you are, almost without fail, not wanting to see it.

That's the most likely origin.

Re:Where did it come from? (1)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 6 years ago | (#21535365)

That's what I thought. It's almost as iconic to the Brits as the TARDIS. Do you have a citation, perhaps?

Re:Where did it come from? (1)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | more than 6 years ago | (#21535783)

It's almost as iconic to the Brits as the TARDIS.

Spam iconic to the Brits? WTF? Maybe to Monty Python, but not the Brits...

Spam is American and is associated with the American C-Ration. I don't have the reference handy, but WWII proved to be a blessing for Spam (and Coca-Cola and Tootsie Rolls) and became entrenched in the local diets possibly due to no other food being available at the time. I can only think of sentimental value as why it remains popular.

Personally, I like Fried Spam sandwiches but I think it's because it reminds me of my younger days (not so long ago). I know its not because it's good for me (It's not).

Re:Where did it come from? (4, Informative)

aberkvam (109205) | more than 6 years ago | (#21535585)

Does anybody have a definitive origin? Like the bug in Grace Hoppers log book?

Grace Hopper was not the origin of the term "bug" to refer to a defect in a mechanical device. Both "bug" and "debug" were in use before then. Thomas Edison, for example, referred to bugs in his inventions. Wikipedia's article on software bugs [wikipedia.org] is a good place to start learning more.

Re:Where did it come from? (1)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#21536345)

Grace Hopper's bug was a moth [wikipedia.org] that got stuck in a relay in the computer.

While she was working on a Mark II Computer at Harvard University, her associates discovered a moth stuck in a relay and thereby impeding operation, whereupon she remarked that they were "debugging" the system. Though the term computer bug cannot be definitively attributed to Admiral Hopper, she did bring the term into popularity. The remains of the moth can be found in the group's log book at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C..[3]
A musical Hallmark card has more computing power than the Mark II, and it's a lot smaller than Hopper's moth (pictured in the Wikipedia article linked).

-mcgrew

Re:Where did it come from? (2, Insightful)

DCTooTall (870500) | more than 6 years ago | (#21535627)

Wouldn't be surprised if it's both, actually.....

It was the older online geek culture which labeled unwanted email spam. Based off the popularity of Monty Python with that group, The name choice was most likely a reference to the sketch.

NOW.... Where did the idea for the Sketch come from?

Considering the influence and ability of classic Brit TV (Science Fiction and Comedy being the 2 biggest contributors) to bridge the pond... I honestly would not be surprised if most people outside of the UK know or knew about the 'everybody gets it, nobody wants it' Brit-ism, and therefor didn't make the connection.

the other Coke (2, Interesting)

xPsi (851544) | more than 6 years ago | (#21535073)

I wonder if anti drug groups at some point had to fight the same trademark battle with Coke (and lost, since I don't think any anti drug groups today have the word 'Coke' in them)? Of course the Coke (tm) name is actually historically associated with the coca plant, unlike SPAM (tm) and its spam counterpart which have no obvious connection except cultural non sequiturism.

Re:the other Coke (1, Informative)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 6 years ago | (#21535605)

unlike SPAM (tm) and its spam counterpart which have no obvious connection except cultural non sequiturism.
SPAM (tm) == Spiced Ham.

Sorry to burst your bubble.

Re:the other Coke (1)

xPsi (851544) | more than 6 years ago | (#21535825)

Sure. But "SPAM (tm) brand spiced ham" (whatever you want to call it) is still trademarked, right? Unlike Coke (tm) to coke (i.e. coca/cocaine), email spam has no physical connection to SPAM (tm) brand spiced ham except via an obscure Monty Python in-joke.

Re:the other Coke (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 6 years ago | (#21536093)

Ah, I see what you're getting at. I misunderstood your comment.

One could say, however, that there is no connection beween Coke (tm) and industrial coke; does calling industrial coke "coke" dilute the Coke trademark?

This isn't a great parallel, since coke was around before Coke (tm) and doesn't have the negative connotations of spam, but trademarks are held to be specific to a type of product.

What is important from Hormel's perspective, I think, is that they maintain positive brand image -- and it's kind of hard when far more people are exposed to spam than to Spam(tm). I think the solution for them is to rebrand Spam(tm). Expensive and annoying, I know, but the law is not on their side, so that may be their best option.

Re:the other Coke (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21535957)

Sorry to burst your bubble.
I guess the only bubble-bursting there is the friendly reminder that hormel spam actually involves food at some level

Re:the other Coke (1)

mulvane (692631) | more than 6 years ago | (#21535743)

Coke at one point in time had cocaine in it. It caused headache's in many people and the FDA forced them to take it out and reformulate. It maintained the name and the same great taste though.

Re:the other Coke (1)

Zashi (992673) | more than 6 years ago | (#21536365)

Coke at one point in time had cocaine in it. It caused headache's in many people and the FDA forced them to take it out and reformulate. It maintained the name and the same great taste though.

This message brought to you by Refreshing Coca-Cola? Given The Love All comes back to you.

Sorry, parent's post sounds like he or she works for the Coke marketing department.

Re:the other Coke (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 6 years ago | (#21536459)

Coke at one point in time had cocaine in it. It caused headache's in many people and the FDA forced them to take it out and reformulate. It maintained the name and the same great taste though.
The headaches were completely irrelevant. The FDA forced Coca Cola (and many other companies)to take cocaine out their product when cocaine became a controlled substance. Cocaine did not become a controlled substance because of headaches.

Sure and that's what Apple said about Apple too (3, Funny)

dtjohnson (102237) | more than 6 years ago | (#21535097)

Apple Records (a 'music' company) sued Apple Computer (a 'computer' company) over the name thing. Apple Records initially didn't do much about Steve Jobs use of their name back when Apple records was the big dog and Apple Computer was a nobody because no one would ever confuse computers with music. Right. Apple Records has pretty much been eclipsed by Apple Computer now and Jobs won the latest trademark dispute thanks to so many years of using the Apple name. Hormel will lose their famous 'SPAM' brand if they don't fight (and they may still lose it anyway even if they do.) If Hormel loses, we will no longer know if we are getting the genuine SPAM, or an imitator, when we go the supermarket.

Re:Sure and that's what Apple said about Apple too (2, Funny)

technobabblingfool (1133901) | more than 6 years ago | (#21535213)

If Hormel loses, we will no longer know if we are getting the genuine SPAM, or an imitator, when we go the supermarket.

Now that's funny.

Re:Sure and that's what Apple said about Apple too (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21535671)

Hormel DID win. The problem here is actually a legal one. If Hormel doesn't fight hard against anyone using SPAM then if someone did try to steal it for use in a meat brand where it could be confused with SPAM Hormel would lose the right to defend the name on the grounds that they DIDN'T fight other potential infringers like Spam Alert. Under US law you have to "vigorously defend" your trademarks, and be able to prove in court that you did so, or risk losing your trademark altogether.

Sorry for Hormel (3, Insightful)

IPFreely (47576) | more than 6 years ago | (#21535677)

Well, you kind of have to feel sorry for Hormel a little.

They had some product out there with a bizzare name. Then the Monty Python skit comes along and satirizes it. That's not so bad really.

But that leads to other people using the name for a different meaning, a meaning garnered from the Monty Python skit rather than the original product. Then the new meaning drowns out their original poduct and takes their name away. Now that hurts.

They didn't cause any of this, and for the most part it was not an intentional attack on them either. They really did not have much recourse at each step because the satire and redefinition were legitimate legal uses. It's all just a sad twist of fate.

Aw well. They can always do what all the SPAMmers do: rename their product and sell it to someone else who does not know any better.

Re:Sure and that's what Apple said about Apple too (1)

The Queen (56621) | more than 6 years ago | (#21535821)

If Hormel loses, we will no longer know if we are getting the genuine SPAM, or an imitator, when we go the supermarket.

Isn't SPAM already an imitation to begin with?

Re:Sure and that's what Apple said about Apple too (3, Informative)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | more than 6 years ago | (#21536229)

Apple Records (a 'music' company) sued Apple Computer (a 'computer' company) over the name thing. Apple Records initially didn't do much about Steve Jobs use of their name back when Apple records was the big dog and Apple Computer was a nobody because no one would ever confuse computers with music. Right. Apple Records has pretty much been eclipsed by Apple Computer now and Jobs won the latest trademark dispute thanks to so many years of using the Apple name.

Apple did not win the latest trademark dispute becasue of size or name recognition; they had a clause in their license agreement taht was interpreted to allow them to move into music related computer products. They later reached an agreement with Apple Records over the ownership of the Apple trademark, which makes sense since Apple Computer is a much bigger dog and can better protect the Apple name. In any case; it was done via agreemnets between teh two companies, not a court awarding Apple rights to the trademark.

Re:Sure and that's what Apple said about Apple too (1)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | more than 6 years ago | (#21536443)

Just make sure the company name is still on the label. "Spam" might go as a trademarkable name, but I'm pretty sure "Hormel" is safe.

Re:Sure and that's what Apple said about Apple too (3, Informative)

idontgno (624372) | more than 6 years ago | (#21536461)

If Hormel loses, we will no longer know if we are getting the genuine SPAM, or an imitator, when we go the supermarket.

That's hype. In the arena of food products, the SPAM mark will still be valid and enforceable.

To quote The Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School:

So, for example, the use of an identical mark on the same product would clearly constitute infringement. If I manufacture and sell computers using the mark "Apple," my use of that mark will likely cause confusion among consumers, since they may be misled into thinking that the computers are made by Apple Computer, Inc. Using a very similar mark on the same product may also give rise to a claim of infringement, if the marks are close enough in sound, appearance, or meaning so as to cause confusion. So, for example, "Applet" computers may be off-limits; perhaps also "Apricot." On the other end of the spectrum, using the same term on a completely unrelated product will not likely give rise to an infringement claim. Thus, Apple Computer and Apple Records can peacefully co-exist, since consumers are not likely to think that the computers are being made by the record company, or vice versa.
-- http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/metaschool/fisher/domain/tm.htm#7 [harvard.edu], emphasis mine

The first boldfaced bit covers your end-of-the-world hyperbole case. The second boldfaced bit is the actual case: The same trade name applied to distinct and unrelated products will probably not be infringement, which is borne out in the specific lawsut TFA was about.

ObDisclaimer: IANAL, but I bet the clever chaps at Harvard Law School are.

Re:Sure and that's what Apple said about Apple too (1)

Dogtanian (588974) | more than 6 years ago | (#21536501)

If Hormel loses, we will no longer know if we are getting the genuine SPAM, or an imitator, when we go the supermarket.
No, they won't. Trade marks only apply to certain fields. They weren't discussing the use of the term with relation to processed meat products.

To quote the article:-

"The case is limited to the e-mail usage of the word spam, which will not detract from the fame associated with Hormel's meat products trademark
"Insightful", my arse.

FRIST @PSOT (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21535257)

Triumphs would sson for a living got

Implied insults (1)

CopaceticOpus (965603) | more than 6 years ago | (#21535333)

So I could start a company that cleans up dog shit and call it Microsoft Scoopers?

Re:Implied insults (1)

czmax (939486) | more than 6 years ago | (#21535557)

So I could start a company that cleans up dog shit and call it Microsoft Scoopers?
Only if you limited your service to very small dogs.

Re:Implied insults (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21535559)

[blockquote]So I could start a company that cleans up dog shit and call it Microsoft Scoopers?[/blockquote]
If you could use an acronym to justify your use of the word "Microsoft" instead of just "shit" and then get it to become universally synonymous, then yes. However, I think most people are more familiar with the terms "reformatting" and "uninstalling," so you might have more luck there.

Re:Implied insults (1)

ssj152 (803281) | more than 6 years ago | (#21535625)

"Microsoft Scoopers" - what a HOOT! I wonder what the EULA would be like?

How would they advertize it - "We get all the crap, all of the time"?
I've been getting crap from Microsoft for years now. Well what about that, Ive been using "Scoopers (tm) and didn't even know it!

Where Does You Want To Go Today? (1)

Camel Pilot (78781) | more than 6 years ago | (#21535937)

And your tag line could be "Where Does Your Dog Want To Go Today?" - Heck we don't care we will scoop it up regardless.

Re:Implied insults (1)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#21536403)

So I could start a company that cleans up dog shit and call it Microsoft Scoopers?

No, an antivirus company already took that one.

Nothing to do with email or lawsuits, but... (1)

mcmonkey (96054) | more than 6 years ago | (#21535347)

To get me to eat it at dinner
They said I'd grow up like Bruce Jenner
He was a winner that never knew defeat
And when he got hungry
When he got hungry
He cracked open that special treat

Spam
-Save Ferris

Sucks for Hormel... (1)

Dmala (752610) | more than 6 years ago | (#21535379)

You have to feel a little bit bad for Hormel. Their 60-odd year old brand name has, through no fault of their own, become inextricably associated with a massive, universally despised, worldwide problem. It's one thing to lose a trademark that has become generic, or to have a negative association created because of something the company did. Having the trademark appropriated because of a Monty Python sketch and a bunch of geeks is a bummer.

Re:Sucks for Hormel... (2, Funny)

PhxBlue (562201) | more than 6 years ago | (#21535463)

Their 60-odd year old brand name has, through no fault of their own, become inextricably associated with a massive, universally despised, worldwide problem.

Clearly you've never eaten SPAM.

Spam does have one virtue (1)

Sloppy (14984) | more than 6 years ago | (#21535823)

See the 1978 version of "Dawn of the Dead." Fran discovers a cache of Spam, and expressions discontent. Roger sets her straight, as no one had thought to bring a can opener.

Re:Sucks for Hormel... (1)

ianare (1132971) | more than 6 years ago | (#21535579)

[SPAM] has ... become inextricably associated with a massive, universally despised, worldwide problem.
Might I be so bold as to say that this was always the case ?

Re:Sucks for Hormel... (1)

wattrlz (1162603) | more than 6 years ago | (#21536433)

You have to feel a little bit bad for Hormel. Their 60-odd year old brand name has, through no fault of their own, become inextricably associated with another massive, universally despised, worldwide problem. ...
There, fixed it for you.

Too bad they don't have a sense of humor. (1)

nobodyman (90587) | more than 6 years ago | (#21535413)

Disclaimer: I actually *like* SLT's (spam, lettuce, tomato) so I may be biased (or insane).

I remember watching some show on Food network ("Good Eats"? I think.) and they covered a Spam cook off. Some of the recipes seemed actually decent, but mostly tongue-in-cheek acknowledgments that spam is not exactly the best tasting thing in the world. But the funniest thing about is that they interviewed some Hormel exec and the guy had NO SENSE OF HUMOR WHATSOEVER, and was almost visibly agitated at the suggestion that spam is somewhat of a joke. Pity that they don't seem to "get it".

That said, I think that they are somewhat justified in going after people that use "Spam" even in the email context. Most people (even non-IT people) associate "spam" with email nowadays, and I can see a day where people will scratch their heads and wonder why Hormel name a product after junk mail. So it's understandable why they want to defend their brand. Still, I think this is inevitable and they could spin it into good PR if they could just have a sense of humor about it all.

Re:Too bad they don't have a sense of humor. (2, Interesting)

SammyB (903607) | more than 6 years ago | (#21535811)

Actually most people at Hormel do have a good sense of humor about it. I'm actually from the small town (Austin, Minnesota) where the canned meat is made. They realize they have an odd product that is the butt of a lot of jokes and have gone out of their way to play it up. Just check out their website, a 15 second look around their site should clue you in that they have some sense of humor. http://www.spam.com/ [spam.com]

Re:Too bad they don't have a sense of humor. (1)

Etrias (1121031) | more than 6 years ago | (#21536141)

Maybe the guy from Hormel wasn't a part of the Spam fun. Hell, go to the Spam [spam.com] website and you can tell that it's all a bit tongue in cheek about the whole thing.

There's even a Spam museum in Austin, MN, which is I believe where it's first Spam factory is.

I knew SPAM=email before I knew SPAM='food' (1)

Romwell (873455) | more than 6 years ago | (#21536289)

I can see a day where people will scratch their heads and wonder why Hormel name a product after junk mail

Actually, coming from Ukraine, I was quite amused to see SPAM on the shelves at the stores. Of course, I kind of knew the origin of the term, but somehow I thought that SPAM-the-product was long extinct. Actually, the only reason I bought a can of SPAM once was just that - that act of "buying spam". I really felt amazed that a popular product could be "named after junk email" =)

The next thing that I'd buy in that spirit would probably be a "1337" T-Sirt, signifying Petrarca's visit to Rome in 1337. Or maybe YouTube plumbing kits, MicroSoft small pillows, maybe a Digg shovel (given that these products come into existence some day)

On an unrelated note, my father seems to actually to like spam-like products. I'll defintitely buy him SPAM some day. Then I would be able to make stupid-cheesy jokes, like "My dad doesn't have any spam, he ate it all yesterday" etc.

Xerox (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21535483)

Xerox got over it (eventually), and so will Hormel.

Sometimes brand names become common in everyday language, and there's really nothing anyone can do about it once that name becomes entrenched in popular usage.

Re:Xerox (1)

SQLGuru (980662) | more than 6 years ago | (#21536523)

I thought that was the goal of most everyday products....to become synonymous with the product they are selling.

q-tips, band-aids, kleenex, nilla wafers, coke (I grew up drinking many flavors of "coke", one of which was Coke) etc.

Layne

a case of mistaken identity (1)

kimchimofo (1195553) | more than 6 years ago | (#21535641)

If Spam was a gourmet product I could understand Hormel making a case that emails of suspcious quality or content have nothing in common with Spam, the food. However, we all know that the source of the content for either Spam, the email, and Spam, the food is equally as questionable. I think Hormel should be happy about all the free advertising. Spam has become a household name again, returning us to simpler times when people just didn't question the origin of things. Come on Hormel, you're not peddling beluga. Take pride in the fact that you've made millions from peddling random meat scraps and move on.

Tagged "patents"? (2, Informative)

LocalH (28506) | more than 6 years ago | (#21536201)

What braindead Slashdotter tagged this story with "patents"? It's a trademark issue, not a patent one.

I'm just curious (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21536227)

Just curious ... has anyone here ever received unsolicited email advertising canned luncheon meat?

I never have, and I am greatly saddened by that fact.

Same as..... (1)

Nonillion (266505) | more than 6 years ago | (#21536253)

This would be the same as Microsoft suing window manufactures to quit using the word 'Windows' and substitute the word 'transparency' instead. Or Universal pictures going after Microsoft for stealing the radioman's characters last name of 'Windows' form John Carpenters 'The Thing'.

Phishing (1)

Ilan Volow (539597) | more than 6 years ago | (#21536265)

If Hormel is right, then there should be tons people who went to concert venues expecting to be ripped off by PayPal and instead ended up getting stoned and seeing jam a band.
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