A DISCUSSION OF LAW AND JOURNALISM

Tag: Amazon

You Don’t Own E-nything

By Ryan Morrison

With news breaking last month that Amazon has a patent to resell e-books, consumers smiled and authors worriedly reviewed the contents of their savings accounts. Earlier this month, attorney and bestselling author Scott Turow wrote an opinion piece in the New York Times stating that the practice of reselling such an item will most likely be “ruled illegal.”

I share his optimism.  But only because our laws are so far behind Europe’s.

If a realm existed more poorly regulated and filled with bad law than the internet, I’d love to see it. We have reactionary legislation from people who don’t know how to turn on their computer, case law decided by judges perplexed by futuristic terms like “modem,” and an army of users content to make up their own interpretations of the law and let it spread like wildfire. This misinterpretation of the law is then repeated on various online forums until it is recited with more bravado than Gaston, mocking any who dare to disagree, even when the dissenters are correct.  Well, get on your chuckle boots, internet, because you’re about to be educated.

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Genericide: A Trademark Owner’s Worst Nightmare

By Jillian Raines
Every year, society loses more and more trademarks to genericide. While trademark owners try to raise public awareness of their unique brand through advertising, attempts usually prove futile. Genericide acts fast—one generic use leads to another until the once-protectable trademarks are wiped out from the market. Could one of Apple’s trademarks be next?

Currently, Apple is embroiled in a dispute about the phrase “App Store” (two words), which the company laid claim to in July 2008 through a trademark registration. In January, Microsoft decided to challenge the validity of Apple’s trademark in the phrase, claiming it has become generic. This hasn’t stopped Apple from attempting to enforce its mark, however; last month, Apple sued Amazon for using the phrase “Appstore” (one word) in relation to Google’s Android.

While media sources have been active in covering the current dispute, they have been pretty quiet when it comes to connecting the “App Store” debate to the long history of trademark genericide. (more…)

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