Re: Coercion = Intellectual Property Rights?

Charlie Stross (
Mon, 21 Dec 1998 10:09:44 +0000

On Sat, Dec 19, 1998 at 12:08:35AM -0800, Paul Hughes wrote:
> ..... Lets say that
> my last name is McDonald, and that I can trace back my lineage to
> that name further than the original owner of the Multi-billion
> dollar fast food chain. And I decided to open a small business
> online called "McDonald's Electronics". No doubt, I will be sued
> by the fast food chain, and loose in a court of law and then
> forced by the strong arm of government to change the name of my
> business.

Point of note:

McDonald's (the fried rat chain) sued a small business (also called McDonald's, also in the fast food line, also established for quite a few years) not far from here a while back. The big mega- corporation got its day in court -- and was told to fuck right off by the court.

Seems they don't have a monopoly on the name -- at least, not here in Scotland.

As a further aside, it's worth noting the "use it or lose it" aspect of current trademark law. A hoover is a generic vacuum cleaner; a kleenex is a generic paper hendkerchief. A xerox is a photocopier. They failed to stop the words entering common usage and they've effectively become generic -- not so generic that you can get away with calling your new photocopier range 'xerox machines', but not far from it.