Was it only a year and a half ago that we experienced the trauma of the opening day of Heathrow’s Terminal 5 in London on our way to Paris? Oy. In the words of Samuel Goldwyn, we’ve all passed a lot of water since then. Anyway, after that trip I wrote a post about the ACNE Jeans display we saw at Le Bon Marche in Paris, and for those who don’t feel like clicking on the link to reread it, suffice to say I expressed great derision for the mark.
Well, lo and behold, the New York Times has an article today about exactly that Acne Jeans company. The Times, kinder than I am, merely dubs the name “off-putting.” But what they do reveal is the etymology of the name: It is an acronym for “Ambition to Create Novel Expressions.” Yes, take a deep breath. It’s that lame.
My mission now? To create an award that will serve as the anti-Alt-0174 award for the crappiest name. Whatever it will be named, I think Acne wins, with bonus points for its clunky acronym.
Rant alert! I just got an email from Entertainment Weekly inviting me to enter a contest. Big deal, I usually ignore these. But my hackles went up when I saw what the prize is: “An all-inclusive trip for two to TV’s biggest awards show in 2010.” IT’S THE EMMY AWARDS, STUPID! And it’s idiotic to have to refer to the awards ceremony by some nonsensical generic name. Is the public going to be confused that the Emmy Awards are sponsoring the promotion? What if some other telecast thought it was TV’s biggest awards show? Just as the NFL overreaches in its efforts to restrict usage of the “Super Bowl” name, and just as the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences tries to restrict use of “Oscar” and “Academy Award,” so has the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences jumped on the overreaching bandwagon. Lawyers can come up with all the fancy trademark restrictions they want, but nothing changes the fact that Entertainment Weekly’s use, if they made it, would be fair use – that is, use other than as a trademark, or, as Judge Kosinski defined it, “nominative fair use.” The fact that ATAS and AMPAS and the NFL have come up with their complex scheme of restrictions on such use, and the fact that they have succeeded in scaring the hell out of the public (e.g., signs exhorting you to “stock up for the big game!” at the supermarket) doesn’t mean they’ve got the legal high ground.
Just as I bitch about the blurring of logos on clothing worn by reality TV show contestants as not constituting trademark use, so will I continue to bitch about overzealous trademark owners and their counsel who attempt to restrict the legitimate flow of commerce and discourse. Govern yourselves accordingly.
You be the judge.
As one of the commenters to the linked post suggests, Apple in the past has not been a paragon of originality. But that’s not the point here. In this case, it is plain to see that the two designs at issue are not remotely confusingly similar, and neither are the businesses they designate. Had Woolworth’s adopted an identical apple as its logo, perhaps an action would lie for dilution of a famous mark (and I am not in any way purporting to address Australian law). But that’s not the case, and Apple once again reaches too far and sets itself up for criticism like this.
The preceding post was written on an Apple computer. So there.
Thanks to Uncle Paul for sending this my way.