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Spam Lawsuit's Last Laugh is at Hormel's Expense 172

Posted by Zonk
from the junk-email-junk-email-eggs-and-junk-email dept.
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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Spam Lawsuit's Last Laugh is at Hormel's Expense

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 30, 2007 @01:46PM (#21534877)
    Too bad they spam people who use their service or email their customers: http://www.politechbot.com/p-04457.html [politechbot.com]
    • by sm62704 (957197)
      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.)
  • At whose expense? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by chuck (477) on Friday November 30, 2007 @01:46PM (#21534887) Homepage
    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.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 30, 2007 @01:59PM (#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.

      • by somersault (912633) on Friday November 30, 2007 @02:05PM (#21535197) Homepage Journal
        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!
        • 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? (Score:4, Informative)

          by Penguinisto (415985) on Friday November 30, 2007 @03:04PM (#21536193) Journal

          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? (Score:5, Informative)

        by Jay L (74152) <jay+slash.jay@fm> on Friday November 30, 2007 @02:54PM (#21536033) Homepage
        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.))

        • by HiThere (15173)
          Yes, and I consider it a pity that they lost the case. If they had been hard-cases at the beginning they would have won...think what that says about the behaviour our legal system encourages.
    • by zoloto (586738)
      I had to look up who Hormel was. It's not like many people actually eat that crap, at least, not in my circles.
  • by Rik Sweeney (471717) on Friday November 30, 2007 @01:48PM (#21534913) Homepage
    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.
    • 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.

  • Oh (Score:5, Funny)

    by goldaryn (834427) on Friday November 30, 2007 @01:48PM (#21534919) Homepage
    And all this time I thought the emails "Give her more meat" were from Hormel..
  • by ciaohound (118419) on Friday November 30, 2007 @01:49PM (#21534927)
    Spam Arrest could change their name to Arrest Arrest Arrest Arrest Spam Arrest; that's got less spam in it.
  • About that Icon... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ackthpt (218170) * on Friday November 30, 2007 @01:52PM (#21534957) Homepage Journal

    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!

    • 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: (Score:2, Interesting)

      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.

    • by Abreu (173023)
      Well, maybe after the lawsuits over we can go back to the can as an icon...
      • by SQLGuru (980662)
        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
    • by Chris Burke (6130)

      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, where formerly the icon was indeed a can of Spam.

      Yeah, it's called a "pun". That doesn't mean people actually confuse the various meaning of words as being the same (otherwise you must feel really awkward when someone offers you a weiner).

      The old icon did use the Spam(tm) trademark, though, which

  • by wattrlz (1162603)
    I wonder if using the term, " Pepsi" to refer to bait-and-switch schemes would fare as well in a court of law.
    • 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 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.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Huntr (951770)
      In that case they should call it "New Coke."

      Explanatory link [wikipedia.org], for you young'uns.
  • I like bread and butter.
    I like toast and jam.
    I like those good and simple things,
    and that's why I like SPAM!
  • Food? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Akaihiryuu (786040) on Friday November 30, 2007 @01:55PM (#21535015)
    Since when is Spam considered food? Sorry, couldn't resist.
    • A delicacy (Score:5, Interesting)

      by spun (1352) <loverevolutionar ... m ['hoo' in gap]> on Friday November 30, 2007 @02:27PM (#21535535) Journal
      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.
      • by sm62704 (957197)
        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: (Score:3, Informative)

        by wizardforce (1005805)
        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: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Red Flayer (890720)

        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 Mili

      • by Chris Burke (6130)
        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.

        Oh I agree it was probably impressive as hell. Not to mention spam's amazing ability to taste almost, but not entirely, unlike meat.
      • by aberkvam (109205)
        I made SPAM sushi once using the recipe in SPAM: A Biography [amazon.com]. Ugh, never again.... There are just some things that Should Not Be.
    • Believe it or not, SPAM really isn't all that bad when done properly. Slice it thin and fry it with onions for a yummy sandwich. Seriously, although it looks disgusting, it's can be pretty good. People don't keep buying it because it's awful.

  • by $RANDOMLUSER (804576) on Friday November 30, 2007 @01:57PM (#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?
    • by rucs_hack (784150)
      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.
      • That's what I thought. It's almost as iconic to the Brits as the TARDIS. Do you have a citation, perhaps?
        • 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 th

          • by unapersson (38207)
            > Spam iconic to the Brits? WTF? Maybe to Monty Python, but not the Brits...

            Actually it is. It doesn't have positive associations but it's definitely iconic. Why do you think Python used it in the first place?
      • That would make sense, but it is wrong. It all started back in the days when we chiseled our bits into stone and sent them by mule train from village to village...

        It was the MP skit, not the cultural feelings about SPAM that caused it. Later references were made back to the skit comparison, eventually it was one of those things that people were supposed to just *know* if they were cool.

        See: http://www.templetons.com/brad/spamterm.html [templetons.com]

    • by aberkvam (109205) <(moc.euqreb) (ta) (mavkreba)> on Friday November 30, 2007 @02:29PM (#21535585) Homepage

      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.
      • I know that. The log entry said something like "first actual case of..."
      • by sm62704 (957197)
        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 Muse

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by DCTooTall (870500)
      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
  • the other Coke (Score:3, Interesting)

    by xPsi (851544) * on Friday November 30, 2007 @01:58PM (#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: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Red Flayer (890720)

      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.
      • by xPsi (851544) *
        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.
        • 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
    • by mulvane (692631)
      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.
      • 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.
      • It maintained the name and the same great taste though.
        That is, until the 1980s when they replaced the Real Thing with what was essentially Diet Coke with high fructose corn syrup. Then after a backlash, they brought back the "classic" formula but kept the corn syrup.
  • by dtjohnson (102237) on Friday November 30, 2007 @02:00PM (#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: (Score:2, Funny)

      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.
    • Sorry for Hormel (Score:4, Insightful)

      by IPFreely (47576) <mark@mwiley.org> on Friday November 30, 2007 @02:34PM (#21535677) Homepage Journal
      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.

    • by The Queen (56621)
      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?
    • by Registered Coward v2 (447531) on Friday November 30, 2007 @03:07PM (#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.
    • 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.
    • by idontgno (624372) on Friday November 30, 2007 @03:19PM (#21536461) Journal
      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.

    • by Dogtanian (588974)

      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.

    • by aberkvam (109205)
      Apple Corps (Beatles) filed their first lawsuit against Apple Inc. (computers) back in 1978. They extracted an agreement where Apple Inc. agreed to never get into the music business. I would hardly call that not doing much about it.

      It's hard to say that Jobs "won" the dispute. Apple Inc. now owns all trademarks related to "Apple" and licenses specific ones back to Apple Corps but it was a settlement, not a legal decision. Each side took care of their own legal costs and I think it's safe to assume that
  • So I could start a company that cleans up dog shit and call it Microsoft Scoopers?
  • 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
  • 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: (Score:3, Funny)

      by PhxBlue (562201)

      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.

      • 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.
    • by ianare (1132971)

      [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 ?
    • by wattrlz (1162603)

      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.
    • by sm62704 (957197)
      Having the trademark appropriated because of a Monty Python sketch and a bunch of geeks is a bummer.

      HEY! As one of a bunch of geeks I resent that!
  • 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 suggestio
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by SammyB (903607)
      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]
    • 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 b

  • And right before their roll-out of Maple Smoked Bacn...
  • Tagged "patents"? (Score:3, Informative)

    by LocalH (28506) on Friday November 30, 2007 @03:05PM (#21536201) Homepage
    What braindead Slashdotter tagged this story with "patents"? It's a trademark issue, not a patent one.
    • Probably the same brain-dead Slashdotter to whom you would have to explain that published works may be "copyrighted" but not "copywritten."
    • by tepples (727027)

      What braindead Slashdotter tagged this story with "patents"? It's a trademark issue, not a patent one.
      Slashdot and Hormel are based in the United States. In the United States, the same government agency [uspto.gov] handles patents and trademarks. Or it could be the general confusion caused by the term "intellectual property" [gnu.org].
  • 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'.
  • 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.
  • Until you've had Spambled eggs. Almost as good as sex.
  • This decision is a correct one. Trademark law traditionally has, with few exceptions, protected a name only within a specific market context. Now "Spam" is a name in a new context Hormel apparently had not registered the name in (or conducted any business in). Their lawyer(s) need(s) to go back to school.

  • Hormel used to have a fairly good attitude towards the use of their product name for junk email (and usenet articles). I contacted them about it, and asked for a graphic of their preference so I could put together a little web banner saying "this is spam (junk email; link to an example) and this is Spam(r) (with their graphic as a link to their web page). They granted the request and the person stated that they had no problem at all with it.

    They are probably forced into this by the trademark laws which say
  • This is precisely why we have international Trademark categories in modern times: So companies in different businesses can have similarly named products, because there's no possible way the two could be confused.

    Somehow, I doubt Hormel has a trademark on Spam for the computer software category.
  • In another press release, Hormel marketing executives were at a loss to explain the dismal sales of their new canned seafood product, Phish.
  • actually hormel wins

    to protect the SPAM trademark for the meat they had to at least pretend to do something about companies calling it spam.

    now it has been ruled that the word spam referring to email is not infringing and frees them of any need to do so.

Never test for an error condition you don't know how to handle. -- Steinbach

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