[Wikipedia-l] Re: Genericized trademarks

Michael Snow wikipedia at earthlink.net
Sat Sep 25 17:15:31 UTC 2004

Jens Ropers wrote:

> I agree with what you said below, yet I will continue to call ALL 
> kinds of napalm-type weapon "napalm", because the word very deservedly 
> carries a horrible connotation and the newer weapons' slightly altered 
> formula makes them no less despicable, especially in cases where the 
> they're actually worse (like having "added oxidisers").
> Let's not forget that the article rightly pointed out that several 
> official documents from the U.S. military itself referred to the newer 
> napalm-alike weapons as "napalm".
> "If that's what you call it yourself you can't scream murder over 
> other folks calling it that."

Actually, it wouldn't be the US military claiming the trademark. If the 
trademark owner does misuse the name (i.e. DaimlerChrysler referring to 
a Land Rover as a Jeep), then that's pretty much the end of the game as 
far as the trademark. But in this case the supposed owner is Dow 
Chemical, not the US military, though the (lack of) evidence 
increasingly suggests this is not actually a trademark.

Anyway, I wasn't trying to criticize your use of the word, just 
highlighting the fact that people are using it with different levels of 
precision. Presumably our article on napalm could stand to have a 
section dealing with the composition of napalm and discuss the varying 
definitions being applied.

> That link has expired.
> Can you give us a description of what you did to get to the page or  
> point us to a screenshot or password protected copy of the content  
> somewhere?
> On 25 Sep 2004, at 07:38, Stirling Newberry wrote:
>> http://tess2.uspto.gov/bin/showfield? 
>> f=toc&state=vg813n.1.1&p_search=searchss&p_L=50&BackReference=&p_plural 
>> =yes&p_s_PARA1=&p_tagrepl%7E%3A=PARA1%24LD&expr=PARA1+AND+PARA2&p_s_PAR 
>> A2=Napalm&p_tagrepl%7E%3A=PARA2%24COMB&p_op_ALL=AND&a_default=search&a_ 
>> search=Submit+Query&a_search=Submit+Query
The data indicates that it's a search through the US Patent and 
Trademark Office, which is something I already had done in my initial 
research. Napalm, at least in the sense we are discussing, does not 
appear in the search. That's a fairly strong indication that napalm is 
not a trademark. In the absence of any other evidence, I would have to 
conclude, as Stirling does, that napalm as a trademark is an urban legend.

>> And genericide isn't a crime, the accepted definition removes 
>> trademark  status when a word enters common use. Companies discourage 
>> use of  trademarked words as regular words, not because it is against 
>> the law,  but because it is not against the law.
Actually, it can be against the law if they choose to pursue the issue. 
Trademark owners have been known to seek injunctions against other 
parties to prevent them from misusing their trademark as a generic term. 
This is not a criminal issue, however, and genericide is barely a word, 
let alone a crime.

--Michael Snow

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