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[wg-b] Repost on Behalf of Mark Langston
From: Mark C. Langston [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Monday, December 13, 1999 5:19 PM
Subject: REPOST: Previous attempt failed
(Sorry. Apparently Sprintlink's having some routing problems today.)
Could you please forward this to WG-B? SprintLink's having some serious
problems today, and I can't get any mail though to dnso.org.
Mark C. Langston
cc: email@example.com, "Hartman, Steve" <HartmanS@Nabisco.com>
Subject: Re: [wg-b] Position Papers
In-Reply-To: Your message of "Mon, 13 Dec 1999 10:54:57 EST."
Date: Mon, 13 Dec 1999 09:33:52 -0800
On 13 December 1999, "Hartman, Steve" <HartmanS@Nabisco.com> wrote:
>The assertion that famous mark holders seek to remove words from the domain
>name dictionary is inflammatory and misleading. For one, there are
>kinds of famous marks (as there are different kinds of marks generally).
>Some are fanciful, made-up terms, which never were never words in a
>language. I would like to believe, being trademark counsel for Nabisco,
>Nabisco and Oreo are famous marks. Oreo is not and never was a dictionary
>word. The same is true for Coca-Cola, Exxon, and Kodak, arguably famous
>marks. Other possibly famous marks are proper names of one sort of another,
>but not dictionary words: Marlboro and Mars come to mind. The removal of a
>term from the domain space does not necessarily mean the removal of a
>dictionary word from the domain name space. Removing a non-dictionary term
>from the domain space will generally not interfere with the communicative
>value of the Internet. There are infinitely many non-dictionary terms to
>More to the point is that domain names are more than addresses; they serve
>communicative or advertising function and, to the extent they do, are
>hybrids of addresses and trademarks. Trademark owners are concerned that
>their trademarks will be used in domain names in a misleading or deceptive
>manner. Famous mark are especially vulnerable to such abuse. Protecting
>famous marks from their misleading use as domain names protects the
>communicative value of the Internet, and therefore should be a goal not
>for trademark holders, but for everyone interested in preserving the unique
>phenomenon the Internet is. To allow only the owner of trademark Exxon to
>own Exxon.[anything] probably makes sense. The domain space is not being
>deprived of a dictionary word, so the communicative value of the Internet
>preserved. Indeed, by eliminating those domain names (eg, Exxon.anything)
>that have the greatest potential for confusion and deception, the
>communicative value of the Internet is enhanced.
>In evaluating the various proposals we should focus on the proposals that
>promote the communicative value of the Internet.
Then what of parody, protest, and free speech? Whence
nabisco-labor-abuse.com? Whither mars.com for, say, a company that sells
LEO travel, or plots of land on the Red Planet? What becomes of
On the issue of famous names, there's a category of psychological research
(industrial/organizational psychology) that overlaps the arena of famous
marks, which I really should look up for details, as it applies here. It's
the phenomenon (whose name I forget, hence my need to look it up) in which a
famous mark becomes so common that its value is diluted simply via use.
E.g., "kleenex" is commonly used to mean any facial tissue, and not just
that particular brand. Xerox now commonly refers to any means of
photocopying in normal usage, not just products produced under than brand.
The famous mark, rather than maintaining its exclusivity, becomes an
overused generic term for any product in that category.
Those interested in further details, please ask...I've sent a request to a
former colleague of mine in .au who still works in the field, and I'll pass
along any information that's forthcoming.
However, with all the talk about the legal definition of a famous mark v.
how the average consumer actually views these marks, I think it's important
to consider hard data from a field that's been studying this for many years.
Mark C. Langston
San Jose, CA