05 August 2006

Foul Trademarks

As I wrote recently, I'm not keen on the term "pirates" being bandied about indiscriminately. That applies to things like "bio-piracy" and even the neologism "lingo-piracy":

We’ve heard about biopiracy, the practice of multinational corporations claiming patent rights in the genetic resources of plants and crops in a developing country. Now we are seeing the rise of what might be called lingo-piracy. Brazil is fed up with foreign companies claiming trademarks in common Brazilian words for native fruit, foods and plants. The trademarks give the foreign companies exclusive marketing rights in the words, which in turn inhibits Brazilians from selling their own native foods and fruit in foreign markets.

But I do agree we need a term for the concept so that it can be named and shamed whenever it is encountered. The central issue here is essentially bad trademarks; since we have "fair trade", perhaps we can introduce the concept of "foul trademarks" to cover the situation.

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