Re: Coercion = Intellectual Property Rights?

Michael S. Lorrey (
Mon, 21 Dec 1998 10:51:32 -0500

Charlie Stross wrote:

> 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.

Under GATT, the issue should simply evolve around the first registered use date in either country, and that regional or local users should defer to those with broader presence. If the scottish McDonalds had a previous registered date, while the Americans have broader presence, then there is definitely a sticky wicket there.

> 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.

Yes, xerographic is a common usage term that includes the trademarked name. A hoover is more commonly used these days to describe a girls abilities... There is also Q-tip, while 'windows' are used by many graphical user interfaces...

Mike Lorrey