Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Spam Government The Courts Your Rights Online News

Hormel Back on The Spam Offensive 305

Posted by timothy
from the more-like-human-than-ever dept.
Anonymous Howard writes "After an xapparent setback in litigation, Hormel Foods is again pursuing actions against entities and organizations over the 'spam' trademark. According to the web site of DSPAM, an open-source statistical anti-spam filter, "Anti-spam software manufacturers may be in for a rude awakening. Hormel Foods Corporation and Hormel Foods LLC have recently filed for extensions to oppose or to cancel many new and existing spam-related trademarks and are even filing a few technology trademarks of their own. The DSPAM project, a popular open source and freely available spam filtering application, has already received two such notices of opposition from the trademark trial and appeal board. The complete history can be viewed here. This came about a year after the software's user community scrounged up the fee to file for a trademark...""
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Hormel Back on The Spam Offensive

Comments Filter:
  • Spam (Score:5, Funny)

    by nucal (561664) on Sunday May 22, 2005 @08:55AM (#12604402)
    Anyone out there actually eat spam on a regular basis?
    • Re:Spam (Score:3, Interesting)

      by antifoidulus (807088)
      Actually my Chinese roommates love it, they eat it about 2 times a week.
      • Re:Spam (Score:4, Interesting)

        by hey! (33014) on Sunday May 22, 2005 @02:17PM (#12605888) Homepage Journal
        Yep. A friend of mine spent a summer at the Beijing sports college, where the literal breakfast of champions every day was a big bowl of jook (rice porridge) with a slice of spam on top.

        Curiously, this is very similar to the way Hawaians use spam with poi, which is a starchy tuber that's is cooked into a porridge like consistency.

        In any case, there's a big cultural difference between the way the Ameicans (well, haole Americans) use meat and the way the Chinese do. In American cuisine meat is the meal, and other stuff just goes around it to complement. You have a meal of burgers, and have your corn on the cob on the side. In Chinese cuisine, meat is used as a flavoring, like we use catsup. It's not that the don't have dishes that are primarily meat, but these are typically eaten as a course. Regular day to day meals do not center around meat.

        Spam fits into this mode of meat eating better than the American mode. From a culinary standpoint, Spam as the centerpiece of a meal has the following faults:

        (1) It's too spicy
        (2) It's too salty
        (3) It's too fatty
        (4) It has an insipid texture.

        Of course the first point is debatable, but most people who like "spicy" food like capsium based hotness. It's been a while since I've had Spam, but I remember it has rather clove-y, possibly with mace or some other aromatic seed spice. After you've eaten a quarter pound of the stuff, I'd think you'd get pretty sick of it.

        None of these objections apply to Spam as a flavoring. In fact you can say pretty much all of them about anchovies, but very few people except for fish nuts like me eat anchovies right out of the can.

    • Re:Spam (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Supertroll (210165)
      Actually, "turkey spam" isn't that bad.
      • Re:Spam (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Pharmboy (216950)
        I buy several turkey spam and regular spam every fall, for my "just in case it snows so bad Im stuck in the house for two or three days" stockpile during the winter. Civilian equivelent of the C rations I had in the military, way back when.

        You can eat it cold if you must, or heat over the fire, it is calorie dense, tastes reasonably good, stores well, and I just eat the cans that are left over in the spring as sandwiches (sliced in thirds and lightly browned in a skillet) so my "rations" are never more th
    • Re:Spam (Score:3, Interesting)

      I often grab a SPAM musubi and a couple of manapua(a pork and a duck or a curry chicken and a duck) for lunch.
    • Eeeeewwwww! (Score:3, Insightful)


      Good question, but a disgusting one. Anyone ever eat Hormel Foods Spam at all? My understanding is that Spam is just a way of selling the fat and scraps that are left after processing other kinds of meat products. That's how spam email got its name; spam email is the least desirable kind of email; Spam meat is the least desirable kind of meat. Whoever named unwanted email "spam" was a communication genius; he gained instant comprehension.

      Hormel Foods might want to think again about involving hundreds of
      • Re:Eeeeewwwww! (Score:5, Informative)

        by jacksonj04 (800021) <nick@nickjackson.me> on Sunday May 22, 2005 @09:27AM (#12604500) Homepage
        Actually, SPAM (the food) stands for Spiced Pork and Ham. Spam (the email) became associated with SPAM after a Monty Python sketch with a load of Vikings chanting SPAM repeatedly. Lots of SPAM = pointless and unwanted = spam.
      • Re:Eeeeewwwww! (Score:5, Informative)

        by operagost (62405) on Sunday May 22, 2005 @09:33AM (#12604518) Homepage Journal
        That's how spam email got its name; spam email is the least desirable kind of email; Spam meat is the least desirable kind of meat.
        It's pretty well established that "spam" got its name from a Monty Python bit. I hereby revoke your geek card.

        It's also not "by products," if you will. It's pork shoulder, which is a perfectly good part of the pig. Or bad, depending on your opinion of pork.


        • I think that in this case, "pretty well established" is probably a correct term, but I also think it is a mistake.

          The question is not why unwanted email was originally named "spam". The question is why the term was immediately adopted and enthusiastically used by so many people.

          The people who named it "spam" and the people who adopted the term so easily and with such popularity were probably older people, not teenagers or people in their early twenties. I say that because I believe the formula for Hormel Foods SPAM has changed. I tried SPAM in the 50's. Even as a child I was disgusted by the fat in SPAM then. So, when I first heard the word "spam" associated with unwanted email, I completely understood and agreed wtih the reference.

          If unwanted email had been named "foot stomp", I might have recognized the reference to the Monty Python TV show, but I would not have adopted the term myself.

          I remember trying a bite of Hormel Foods SPAM several years ago, and I was surprised that it was not disgusting. That's why I think that the formula was changed.

          Someone, please look on a can of Hormel Foods SPAM and post a comment with the total calories per serving and the number of fat calories per serviing.

          Funny official statement from Hormel Foods [spam.com] : Let's face it. Today's teens and young adults are more computer savvy than ever, and the next generations will be even more so. Children will be exposed to the slang term "spam" to describe UCE well before being exposed to our famous product SPAM. Ultimately, we are trying to avoid the day when the consuming public asks, "Why would Hormel Foods name its product after junk e-mail?"

          • According to a SPAM facts web page [claremont.edu], SPAM is mostly fat:

            "Nutrition Information For SPAM (original style):

            * Calories Per Serving: 170
            * Calories Per Serving From Fat: 140"

            • by Reziac (43301) * on Sunday May 22, 2005 @11:21AM (#12604966) Homepage Journal
              No, that just means that most of the CALORIES are from fat. This is true of most foods that contain any fat (including butter and veg.oils) at all, because fat is the most caloric-dense ingredient.

              Fat runs around 170 calories per ounce (vs. something like 60 cal/oz for meat).

              So if a 2-ounce serving contains 140 cal. from fat, that means the product is around 20% fat.

              Which is about the same as ordinary hamburger.

              As to changes over the years, pork itself has become a fairly lean meat, so there is less fat in the average processed pig than there was 30 years ago. But the canning process is rather finicky about what can be in the can and still come out at the desired texture, so it's more likely changes in your tastes with maturity that make it seem different. Lots of kids think many things are gross that these same kids gobble wholeheartedly as adults.

          • mmm i have a (modern) can of spam here and i can't find any nutrition information printed on it.

            btw i consider a 200g can of spam to be one serving what do other people here think?
            • One of the more popular spam products you can buy in the Philippines is called "Ma Ling" it comes from China, tastes pretty good!, but I think I'd prefer never knowing what's actually in it. Definitely NO nutritional information on the can, unless that's what all the chinese text is?!. I'm with you on the 200 gram can equating to 1 serving though.
          • They were giving out free samples of SPAM at the Wildflower Festival [wildflowerfestival.com] yesterday. I took one, (it was one of those "SPAM Singles"), and it had 25% of the Daily Value of fat (it said for normal AND saturated) for a 2000 calorie diet.
            But it was delicious.
          • The term is in such wide use now I'd be surprised if a judge didn't rule that the trademark has fallen into common use.

            As for the meat, we used to get it for lunch at a school in Hawaii back in the 70's, which I think constitutes cruel and unusual punishment. However, if you cook it properly it can be OK. You just need to use a method that renders most of the fat out of it, and then discard the fat. They didn't do that in Hawaii heh heh. At least not at my school. Normally I'd say keep that pork fat aroun

      • I used to when I was a great deal younger.

        Not sure if it is supposed to be a breakfast food, but that's primarily how it was served (on bread). Semi-tasty stuff when you are younger with a stomache of iron.

        Now, it's just too greasy for me, but that doesn't say I won't touch it again. (Just fairly rare to eat it now)

      • Funny observation from a link [topsecretrecipes.com] in a comment below:

        "Does Spam taste corpsy? Of course it tastes corpsy -- it's meat. We're just arguing about the identity of the deceased."

        Also: "... the name Spam is derived from the words "spicy ham, ..."

        It seems to me that islanders liked Hormel SPAM because it was the cheapest form of meat product and because they accepted high fat food because they ate coconut.
      • That's how spam email got its name; spam email is the least desirable kind of email; Spam meat is the least desirable kind of meat.

        I thought junk email got named spam because it's always filling up your mailbox, just like spam the meat product. (you guys do have large quantities of processed meat products put in your mailbox daily, don't you?)

        I think SPAM is actually pretty good if you fry the hell out of it and then throw it on an English muffin with cheese and a fried egg. I call this the "aorta-buster

      • Its not just scraps its the pork shoulder which is normally very tough and would be thrown out. They essentially boil it in salt water until its tender and package it in the can. They probably do add some fat to it as well.
      • Re:Eeeeewwwww! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Spetiam (671180) on Sunday May 22, 2005 @01:30PM (#12605647) Journal
        My understanding is that Spam is just a way of selling the fat and scraps that are left after processing other kinds of meat products.

        Do you eat hot dogs? What's your understanding of those? :)
    • Re:Spam (Score:3, Interesting)

      I heard from someone who lived on Oahu that Hawaiians consume a disproportionate amount of the US spam intake.
      I've heard of a spam variation on this gastrointestinal atrocity^W delight [whatscookingamerica.net], which is still better than balut, I suppose...
    • Re:Spam (Score:5, Funny)

      by AndroidCat (229562) on Sunday May 22, 2005 @09:46AM (#12604567) Homepage
      Spam is great! You can keep a can of it in the back of the cupboard for years. Every time you're stuck for something to cook for lunch or supper, you can look in the cupboard and say "Well, there's always the Spam", and you'll be able think of something else to prepare almost immediately.

      It's a lot like Discworld dwarven bread.

    • i keep it around i generally use it when i run out of cheese.

      its not too bad but i think i'd get sick of it if i ate it all the time.
  • Sounds like (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 22, 2005 @08:57AM (#12604407)
    It's time to hire a Spam Assassissin to take out a few Hormel lawyers.
  • Tough case (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bigtallmofo (695287) on Sunday May 22, 2005 @08:59AM (#12604412)
    I understand why Hormel wants to do this. Normally you don't want your product associated with such a negative thing.

    But Spam? Of the people that actually enjoy eating it, would anything dissuade them from doing so? I mean, they're eating gelatinous pig parts. They don't seem like very discerning consumers to me.

    • by Supertroll (210165) on Sunday May 22, 2005 @09:11AM (#12604440) Homepage
      SPAM(tm) is the "Baywatch" of foods. Nobody admits to liking it but Hormell has been selling a metric assload of it for 60 years.
    • I understand why Hormel wants to do this. Normally you don't want your product associated with such a negative thing.

      Yeah, I've felt a little bad for Hormel with the association. But I've never associated or heard other people associate SPAM with a quality product. I've only eaten it once when camping when I was in 6th grade. Honestly, I don't remember it being bad. For me, the only caned meat products that I eat is tuna.

      Also, if they are going to the US government for help in this matter, maybe they
      • Really, the stuff is pretty darn good.

        Just cook it like you would bacon or a hamburger... IT will brown like bacon.

        Once you get the outer slab nice and crisp, its damn tasty.
    • Companies have to defend their trademarks lest they slip into general use. That's what happened to Moxie, Cellophane, Aspirin, etc. Hormel isn't doing this just to be jerks; they have to be shown to be making an active defense or risk losing their rights to "spam." Defense of trademark is also why commercials say things like "Scotch brand" tape. I'll leave the argument as to whether the rights to "spam" are worth fighting for to others.
  • Lets see... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by thrill12 (711899) *
    Spam Meat [google.com] gives back 701.000 results, whereas

    Spam Mail [google.com] gives back 52 million 200.000 results.

    I think it is clear who loses this case - it's a numbers game...
    • Re:Lets see... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by DoorFrame (22108) on Sunday May 22, 2005 @09:07AM (#12604431) Homepage
      Yeah, I'm not sure the infamous "Googlefight logic" neccessarily stands up in court.

      Eh, but it worked against kleenex so who knows.
      • Re:Lets see... (Score:3, Insightful)

        Can't it? I thought that if a trademark became associated with a generic thing it could lose its trademark status. As such, if you can show that people associate spam more readily to the junk e-mail than the meat product, it may just lose its trademark status. Granted, I don't know much on those things and I was only basing my comment on the fact that "Xerox" and "Google" were concerned because people "xerox" documents and "google" terms on the web on a daily basis... Hopefully better informed people wi
    • Googlefight. Legally binding in 49 states. If Hormel is able to prove that the Monty Python skit actually did lead to UCE becoming known as 'spam' then maybe they have a case since they'd be able to show their trademark was co-opted.
      • If Hormel is able to prove that the Monty Python skit actually did lead to UCE becoming known as 'spam'

        Well, the Jargon File [catb.org] says "from Monty Python's Flying Circus". The American Heritage Dictionary says "probably inspired by a comedy routine on the British television series Monty Python's Flying Circus, in which the word is repeated incessantly."

        So this seems pretty accepted; perhaps not legally proven though.

    • by Viceice (462967)
      Maybe because SPAM (The product) isn't exactly a meat?
  • by Crimson Dragon (809806) * on Sunday May 22, 2005 @09:00AM (#12604418) Homepage
    I am curious why this article wasn't filed as "Your Rights Online". Maybe I am missing the boat here, but this seems to be an IP-related discussion and not a technical issue.
  • SPAM vs spam (Score:5, Informative)

    by kill-hup (120930) on Sunday May 22, 2005 @09:05AM (#12604428) Homepage
    I seem to recall Hormel being somewhat okay with the use of the word "spam" sans caps. IIRC, "SPAM" is a trademark but "spam" is not.

    'DSPAM', as a company name, would seem to be a perfect example of what Hormel has *not* tolerated...
    • Re:SPAM vs spam (Score:4, Informative)

      by kill-hup (120930) on Sunday May 22, 2005 @09:08AM (#12604433) Homepage
      (replying to myself)

      Quick Google search found Hormel's "SPAM and the Internet" [spam.com] page.
    • And attempting to trademark DSPAM would seem to be flicking a wet towel at a bovine's love tackle. Hormel has to take action now. This should come as a surprise to no one.
  • Trademarks (Score:4, Informative)

    by Tristandh (723519) on Sunday May 22, 2005 @09:07AM (#12604430)
    Aren't trademarks only there to protect a certain brand from being used by others in similar types of industry? Fighting off unwanted commercial e-mail and selling pig's intestines as food are way different playing fields, so I don't see how Hormel has a case...
    Of course, IANAL, so correct me if I'm wrong...
    • Re:Trademarks (Score:5, Insightful)

      by kfg (145172) on Sunday May 22, 2005 @09:34AM (#12604523)
      You are correct, however, things get a bit more complicated when a company takes the trouble to invent a unique word to be their mark.

      Exxon, Lexus, Infiniti, etc.

      Coining a new word makes the mark stronger, because it begins its life innately attached to the company/product; and nothing else, as opposed to, say, "Bob's Garage."

      Standard Oil even went to considerable trouble and expense to make sure their Exxon mark didn't have negative conotations anywhere in the world.

      If you look down you'll find that Hormel is actually being rather reasonable about the whole thing, given the situation. They're defending their mark, as they must if they don't wish to loose it, but they really just aren't being dickheads about it. They accept that their mark, a word they invented just to be associated with their product, now has a new and second meaning.

      But their concerns that in future people might wonder why they named their potted meat product after junk email are perfectly valid.

      KFG
      • Re:Trademarks (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Tristandh (723519)
        I agree that they are quite reasonable in the whole matter. In fact, they explicitly state

        We do not object to use of this slang term to describe UCE.

        But OTOH, they say

        Ultimately, we are trying to avoid the day when the consuming public asks, "Why would Hormel Foods name its product after junk e-mail?"

        Which kind of conflicts with the former quote. Everyone knows about spam-email. Everyone has to deal with it. Seems to me they're fighting a lost case, and they know it.
        • They're just in a difficult situation, then. It seems to me that they are being eminently reasonable about it and deserve respect. If I was DSPAM, I'd just change the package name to dspam and be done with it, since that's an accepted convention, and you may as well be nice when someone else has been.
    • Aren't trademarks only there to protect a certain brand from being used by others in similar types of industry?
      Yes, that's correct.Trademarks are divided into 45 different classes of goods and services. The system is called the "Nice Classification [wipo.int]", since the original version of it was agreed on at some conference in Nice, France. This system is nowadays used in almost all countries in the world.

      Under normal circumstances, marks in different classes are allowed to co-exists even if they are identical. For marks that are not entirely identical but merely very similar, like "Spam" vs. "SpamArrest", even more so.

      For really well known marks, like Coca-Cola or IBM, there is an exception to this rule, which is called "Kodak protection" after the landmark case that is considered to have established the principle.

      But in this case, where the original "Spam" trademark is so strongly tied to just one very specific product, I'd be very surprised if a court would find the "Spam" should enjoy Kodak protection. It's also quite debatable if "Spam" was ever that famous.

      And even if there was a time when it could perhaps be argued that "Spam" was more frequently used to denote the "food" product, nowadays the meaning "junk email" is so widely established that I can't see how the owners of the origial "Spam" trademark could hope to be successful in their claims.

      But perhaps they have some reasons for trying to pursue what to me looks like a very weak case indeed.

      IANATML, but I've worked in the trademarks business for 25 years developing phonetic trademark search systems.

  • by zerocool^ (112121) on Sunday May 22, 2005 @09:09AM (#12604435) Homepage Journal

    from: http://spam.com/ci/ci_in.htm [spam.com]

    SPAM and the Internet

    You've probably seen, heard or even used the term "spamming" to refer to the act of sending unsolicited commercial email (UCE), or "spam" to refer to the UCE itself. Following is our position on the relationship between UCE and our trademark SPAM.

    Use of the term "spam" was adopted as a result of the Monty Python skit in which our SPAM meat product was featured. In this skit, a group of Vikings sang a chorus of "spam, spam, spam . . . " in an increasing crescendo, drowning out other conversation. Hence, the analogy applied because UCE was drowning out normal discourse on the Internet.

    We do not object to use of this slang term to describe UCE, although we do object to the use of the word "spam" as a trademark and to the use of our product image in association with that term. Also, if the term is to be used, it should be used in all lower-case letters to distinguish it from our trademark SPAM, which should be used with all uppercase letters.

    This slang term, which generically describes UCE, does not affect the strength of our trademark SPAM. In a Federal District Court case involving the famous trademark STAR WARS owned by Lucasfilm Ltd., the Court ruled that the slang term used to refer to the Strategic Defense Initiative did not weaken the trademark and the Court refused to stop its use as a slang term. Other examples of famous trademarks having a different slang meaning include MICKEY MOUSE, to describe something as unsophisticated and CADILLAC, used to denote something as being high quality. It is only when someone attempts to trademark the word "spam" that we object to such use, in order to protect our rights in our famous trademark SPAM. We coined this term in 1937 and it has become a famous trademark. Thus, we don't appreciate it when someone else tries to make money on the goodwill that we created in our trademark or product image, or takes away from the unique and distinctive nature of our famous trademark SPAM. Let's face it. Today's teens and young adults are more computer savvy than ever, and the next generations will be even more so. Children will be exposed to the slang term "spam" to describe UCE well before being exposed to our famous product SPAM. Ultimately, we are trying to avoid the day when the consuming public asks, "Why would Hormel Foods name its product after junk e-mail?"

    Position Statement on "Spamming"

    We oppose the act of "spamming" or sending UCE. We have never engaged in this practice, although we have been victimized by it. If you have been one of those who has received UCE with a return address using our website address of SPAM.com, it wasn't us. It's easy and commonplace for somebody sending UCE to simply adopt a fake header ID, which disguises the true source of the UCE and makes it appear that it is coming from someone else. If you have or do receive UCE with this header ID, please understand that it didn't come from us.

    Other "spam" Websites

    This is the one and only official SPAM Website, brought to you by the makers of the SPAM Family of products. All of the others have been created by somebody else. We are not associated with those other websites and are not responsible for their content. As a Company, we are opposed to content that is obscene, vulgar or otherwise not "family friendly." We support positive family values and you can count on us for "safe surfing" by your children.

    Also, from their Legal and Copyright page:

    4. Enforceability. If any of the above terms are unlawful, unenforceable, or void, such term(s) will be deemed severable and will not affect the validity or enforceability of the remaining terms.

    5. Trademark Information. The following trademarks used or which are planned to be used in this site, whether registered or unregistered, are owned by Hormel Foods: SPAM; HORMEL; SPAMBURGER; SPAMTA

    • the famous trademark STAR WARS owned by Lucasfilm Ltd., the Court ruled that the slang term used to refer to the Strategic Defense Initiative did not weaken the trademark and the Court refused to stop its use as a slang term

      As if they could stop its use as a slang term, or as if that's even a legal action for a company or court to undertake. Trademarks are about advertising, or reference to a product. No one can stop you from merely reusing the words of a trademark.

      Companies that get bent out of

  • by dyfet (154716) on Sunday May 22, 2005 @09:20AM (#12604471) Homepage
    If Hormel wants to exclusivily "own" all the spam, I would be very happy to send them all mine!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 22, 2005 @09:24AM (#12604487)
    I can see their point. They've spent 68 years promoting their product and it's trademark and now some young whippersnappers have come along and linked it to something one wishes to avoid. I'd be pissed too.

    They are also being quite reasonable in requesting that their trademark not be incorporated into other trademarks for association with something one wishes to avoid. It's not the same as Tiger which falls into the category of 'wordmarks'. SPAM was never a word so their argument is much stronger. DSPAM using SPAM is akin to taking someones custom artwork and adding a 'D' in front of it and calling it a different trademark.

  • If you're one of those poor souls who can't appreciate the pure joy of two slices of spam with cheap yellow mustard on white bread, here's an alternative that you should try:

    1 small onion
    1 can Spam
    2 inches cut from the end of a block of Velveeta

    Peel the onion and chop it in a food processor. Add the Velveeta and chop for a short burst. Then add the Spam and chop only long enough to blend the results -- you're don't want to turn it into a paste, you want to leave the Spam somewhat chunky.

    Spread the resul
  • by yotto (590067) on Sunday May 22, 2005 @09:43AM (#12604560) Homepage
    I've always been impressed with the lighthearted (in a legal sense, I'm sure pirvately they're quite pissed about the whole thing) Hormel has been with the use of their product name in such a negative light. I don't think many companies would take such a view. I mean, Microsoft won't even let you market a product whose name SOUNDS like 'Windows.' I think that Hormel's stand in this case is reasonable.
    /hates both spam and SPAM.
    • I wouldn't be so sure that they're privately pissed.

      The whole thing has brought a lot of attention to their canned meat product, and as another poster mentioned, they may actually be doing this as much from a marketing standpoint as for real trademark protection.

      They've certainly started pushing the product more over the past couple years-- a few years ago I went to reach for the tuna in my local grocery, and the shelf of chunk white had been replaced by SPAM in all varieties, with the tuna moved below it
    • by Everleet (785889)
      Microsoft won't even let you market a product whose name SOUNDS like 'Windows.'

      Really? What's with all these glass-filled holes in my wall then?

    • I do really feel sorry for Hormel. Almost as sorry as I feel for the company that used to make Ayds diet candy.
  • He should sue the spammers for giving his product a bad name ;)
  • by Wonderkid (541329) on Sunday May 22, 2005 @09:49AM (#12604580) Homepage
    ...historians and/or visiting alien species visiting us in the future after things fall apart for humankind will, when researching the downfall of our species, probably conclude a huge amount of our intellectual, fiscal and human capital/resources were wasted on silly matters such as this and others that seem to make up and take up a lot of people's time in the USA and more so now in the UK. Goddamit, can Hormel just get a life? Sooner individual Americans start to know how to laugh at themselves the better for all of us. It's called self-depreciation.
    • ...historians and/or alien race(s) visiting us in the future after things fall apart for humankind, will, when researching the downfall of our species, probably conclude a huge amount of our intellectual, fiscal and human resources were wasted on silly matters such as this. And not to mention other 'legal' and corporate interest issues that take up a lot of people's time in the USA and more so now in the UK where the concept of self-deprecation is a fading concept. Goddamit, can Hormel just get a life? Soon
  • How about CAN-SPAM (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 22, 2005 @09:50AM (#12604582)
    They're going to have a hard time suing someone for using SPAM in upper-case since they didn't gripe about the CAN-SPAM act of 2003. I guess suing congress would be a bit difficult.
    • Presumably Congress have not tried to trademark the the CAN-SPAM act.

      I can just see it now. Get your CAN-SPAM(TM) act here, fresh from the chamber, it's luuuverly....
  • Meanwhile, in China, a small boat building company is preparing to launch an all out legal offensive on any company wishing to use the junk (ie; junk mail) in thier products instead of spam.
  • Hormel have lost (Score:3, Insightful)

    by philkerr (180450) on Sunday May 22, 2005 @10:11AM (#12604669) Homepage
    Hormel have lost this battle. First email is in no way associated with the food product they sell. Then they tacitly gave the ok for people to use the term.

    Can't have it both ways.

    I've been targeted for a trademark dispute. Funny thing was the MIDI Manufacturers Association didn't own the trademark they said I breached.

    Take this posturing with a pinch of salt, they have nothing and it is common practice for companies to try it on.
  • I don't understand why Hormel insists on their unsolicited email campaign to get their word out.
  • by Random BedHead Ed (602081) on Sunday May 22, 2005 @10:45AM (#12604830) Homepage Journal

    Trademarks work the way they do for a reason: because people want protection of their business and product names, but are not allowed to enforce the way the public uses language. A trademark holder gets a monopoly on a term that is not commonly in use for the purpose to which they have applied it. If the term does happen to go into common useage, they lose it. Trademarks should never be used to enforce how we use words.

    This is why Bayer was forced to give up its trademarks on the words "aspirin" and "heroin." It's why Kodak ended up trying really hard to prevent their trademark from being used as a generic term for photographs after years of pushing their product that way. It's why Microsoft shouldn't have a trademark on the term "windows" when applied to a window-based GUI, and why Hormel should give up and either rename their product or accept that they have no case.

    Of course this main "generic term" point is tangential. A case like this shouldn't even come to proving that spam is a generic term because the technology-related use of the word is in a diffierent industry from Hormel's anyway. If DSPAM were to go into the food business (ha, ha - I called SPAM "food"), then Hormel would have a case against them. But even as a "product" name, DSPAM should be in the clear because the term is applied to a different industry entirely.

    Surely both points together mean that if DSPAM's lawyers cost the same as Hormel's, DSPAM would win.

  • SPAM! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Kwirl (877607)

    SPAM stands for Specially Processed Assorted Meat, the acronym chosen during the world wars when the original name was not popular enough.


    The internet 'SPAM' as in unwanted content came from the Monty Python skit where they repeated 'spamspamspam' ad infinum, and generally annoyed everyone. You see the relevance?

  • by nasor (690345) on Sunday May 22, 2005 @11:56AM (#12605141)
    Don't forget, under U.S. law a company is required to defend its trademarks from use by other parties, or they can lose the trademark. That's usually the reason for trademark lawsuits like this that strike everyone as silly and mean-spirited.
  • Change the name, it's quite simple. Hormel has been ignoring people using the term "spam" for quite some time: and you had to go file a trademark?

    Cripes. What a complete waste of money. It's not like you need the name-branding. Look at the Thunderbird/etc people. They changed their names how many times and they're still ridiculously popular!
  • by jacobcaz (91509) on Sunday May 22, 2005 @01:11PM (#12605538) Homepage
    Years back (like 1996/1997) I registered the domain name spam.net and ran a site where people submitted funny computer articles that ran along side articles of my own writing.

    I ran the site for maybe a year before I received my first C&D letter from Hormel. I replied back telling them I was not attempting to compete and was not dilluting their mark. Basically a nice, "Go to hell, Hormel!"

    There were one or two more letters back and forth between Hormel and myself. When I registered the domain you still didn't have to pay for a registration. When Hormel decided they wanted it back you had to pay $100 for two years to InterNIC. I wanted Hormel to at least buy me a new domain since they were starting to threaten litigation if I didn't hand over spam.net (I was 20 at the time, litigation by a LARGE corporation didn't sound like a walk in the park).

    Some months later I received a letter from WIPO [wipo.int] telling me that Hormel had filed a petition against me and they decided the case was vague enough that they wouldn't give Hormel the name, but I couldn't use it either. InterNIC put the domain name on hold until Hormel and I could sort it out amongst ourselves.

    Hormel contacted me once against asking for the name and I told them if I couldn't have it, they couldn't either. I was happy to leave it on hold so NEITHER of us could use it (scorched earth mentality baby!).

    They just went away.

    I would check on the name from time to time to see if it was still on hold. About 2 months before the payment was due (InterNIC required payment for on hold domains, damn their then-monopoly) I checked on the domain name. I was registered to Hormel, lock stock and barrel!

    My plan had been to pay the registration feel just to keep the name tied up, but somehow - and without anyone notifying me - they managed to get the name transfered to them and taken off hold.

    At no point had I ever agreed to transfer the name or provided anything in writing that said anything remotely close to it. But there it was, big as day, off hold and in the hands of Hormel.

    I've been a little bitter about it ever since.

  • by Samurai Cat! (15315) on Sunday May 22, 2005 @02:14PM (#12605868) Homepage
    ...specific to whatever industry you're using it in?

    Meaning, all the companies making anti-spam products are NOT in the food industry. They're in the tech industry.

"Hello again, Peabody here..." -- Mister Peabody

Working...