Trade Marking Gone Too Far…

To much of a good thing?

Seems as the world has gone corpora crazy by saying let’s Trademark every word in the English language so no one can use it or better yet, lets do it so we can start a secondary market for words much like a stock exchange.  What’s driving all of this is the battle for the right to the name “App Store” as Apple™ has slapped a trademark on this and the venerable giant of Redmond Washington is crying foul as it’s too generic they say.  To support their case, the once famed makers of the Windows operating systems says the term is to “generic” and combining it with the word “store” is a kin to trade marking a name such as “apple pie” to take a bite out of the Americana dialect.

What’s at risk you ask, a lot as when you give the system an inch its sure to take a mile as there a lot of people like myself out there which are paid to look for loop holes or weaknesses in the systems and exploit the daylights out of them.  While many will say this is capitalism at its best, one would be cautioned to not draw their six shooters so quickly as the goal of this economic model is to provide a competitive base for the consumer to get the best product at the most competitive price possible and to me locking up “generic” names doesn’t add to this equation.  In fact, it takes away from this by tying up opportunities for business which if one plays their tick-tac-toe game out further than enough  they end owning most of the game board and that isn’t a win/win for the market as a whole.

While bureaucratic systems such as patents, copyrights and trademarking do have their place to protect ingenuity, it also runs the risk of running into “protectionist” waters if left unchecked and the fear is these now are the waters we sail.  As in the day Coke-a-Cola ™ made sense as the combination was unique when held in reference to its competitor Pepsi Cola™ where each shared the common word “cola” yet their prefix made them wholly different.  However we are talking about the word “App” which really isn’t even a word as it’s an abbreviated form of “Application” so in effect we are talking about the “Application Store” here which took me as far to generic.

However what would make sense is the “Apple App Store” and Microsoft can have the “Microsoft App Store” and even Amazon can get in on the fun with the “Amazon App Store” so the world can be a better place for all.  Here the rule should be as with the Coke™ and Pepsi™ example, that there must be one unique modifier in a trademarked name for it to be validly considered.  Additionally there needs to be substantive reason to acquire a trademark to maintain the value within the system as its simply a short hand means of referencing something larger or more detailed.  Much as Formica ™ has come to replace the term of “high pressure laminate surfacing material”.

However with the later said, what happens when the trademark enters the general lexicon of the public jus as with Formica™, Xerox™, and Kleenex™?  Where then does the ownership lay…

About Joseph Campbell

As a strong believer in the fact that "people work for people", it has been a life driver to better to understand the complexities of the various aspects which drive efficiency within this axiom, especially the concepts of leadership. Supporting this, I have been fortunate enough to having experienced this as leader on a global basis over the last decade and half. During this time it has been clear there are three core drivers being Life, Leadership and Economics.
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