Re: POL: Reaction to Microsoft Ruling

From: Michael S. Lorrey (
Date: Sat Apr 15 2000 - 13:39:12 MDT

Charlie Stross wrote:
> On Thu, Apr 13, 2000 at 01:09:20PM -0400, Michael S. Lorrey wrote:
> > > This is an entirely different issue from trademark law, and variants
> > > thereon like the appelation controllee stuff (which doesn't exist in
> > > the USA but is widely recognized as having the weight of trademark
> > > law elsewhere in the world). Incidentally, it can be argued that those
> > > Californian bubbly producers who call their produce Champagne have exactly
> > > the same relationship to the real thing that Chinese software pirates
> > > have with Microsoft: they're simply infringing a form of intellectual
> > > property that isn't recognized [much] in their home country.
> >
> > Except that the people who originated appelation controlee are long dead, and Bill
> > Gates is quite alive.... a distinct difference.
> Oh, indeed. (Speaking for myself, I'd rather it was the other way around;
> I mean, given a choice between sharing the planet with most excellent
> vintners and a marketing guy with a whiny voice, I don't think it's a
> difficult choice ;-)
> However I should not that the people who originated copyright and patent
> law are also long dead. Does this mean we should ditch them?

No, appelation contrelee is a process, a standard of quality that is
protected by intellectual property law in France. It is not covered
however, by the IP sections of the GATT treaty, and therefore has no
international weight. Now, saying you are appelation controlee is a big
difference from saying "produit du Champagne" (or however it should be
spelled), much as saying that your maple syrup meets the Vermont organic
maple syrup standards, versus saying your maple syrup was organically
grown in Vermont to the OMS standard. Anyone can make maple syrup that
meets the VOMS standard, and can therefore put an 'organic' label on
their maple syrup. The point of difficulty is with whether place names
like Champagne or Vermont are more well known as product types, or as
geographic regions. If the more common definition is as a product type,
then any geographic restrictions should not really hold.

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