25
Jun/02

A Naming Guy on MONDAY and CONSIGNIA


Burt Alper is Strategy Director of Catchword, a San Francisco naming company.  I asked him what he thought of two recent naming stories, PWC Consulting’s change to MONDAY, and the British Post Office’s change from the Post Office to CONSIGNIA, and then back to the Post Office.  Here is his reply:

“Before I start ranting and raving, please note that as a general rule, all name changes are viewed with disdain.  Accenture, Agilent, even FedEx and SGI (as official name changes) were all universally panned by the media, and worse still, most employees.  Over time, these brands have become more comfortable, and the barrage of complaints has died down.  Nevertheless, both Consignia and Monday suffer from “novelty blues”.
Consignia was doomed from the start.  I understand why they wanted to change the name, but they should have known better than to choose a name like that.  Look at who they compete against:  United States Postal Service, Federal Express, DHL … all very dry, but solid sounding organizations.  Companies that are considering a name change must be aware of who they really are, not who they wish they were.  Consignia is a fine name, just not right for Royal Mail.  It sounds techy, new, and Italian.  Even though the Latin root implies some sense of reliability, the style of the name is totally inappropriate for this space.  Royal Mail feels more appropriate.  It may reek of monarchy, but it sure sounds like the folks you expect to deliver the post.
What’s most upsetting about all this is that they spent the money to change … twice.  Talk about paying both coming and going!
The recent announcement by PwC is another example of inappropriate naming styles, although in this case, the semantic content of the name is troubled too.  (At lease Consignia didn’t have any negative associations.)  Monday is the day we all dread.  Songs have been written about how crappy the day can be.  Other than Monday Night Football, can you name a single positive association?
 
But wait, there’s more.  How are we supposed to use the name?  “I’m going to engage Monday.”  How does one differentiate the dreaded day from the company?  How about, “I’m the president of Monday.”  Oh really?
 
The web site tries to educate us on why the name works (starting fresh, working hard, etc.).  I found it interesting to note that the name does not function independent of the brand identity.  You NEED the background to understand the name.  Even if you didn’t like the name Accenture, you could at least see where they were coming from.
I’m in the naming biz, so I know how hard projects like this can be.  Nevertheless, in their effort to think out of the box, PwC may have placed themselves out of contention.  Time will tell whether this name becomes accepted by the business community.  I’ll wager they lose market share for the next 6-12 months until their remaining clients begin to spread the word about how good they are (and prospective clients become desensitized to the name itself).  Better deliver on quality of work, though, or the life of this identity will be short.”
 
Thank you, Burt.

 



25
Jun/02

Google and Chilling Effects


Law.com article on how Google handles copyright complaints.



25
Jun/02

US Bancorp Prevails in First RDRP Decision


Registering a domain name merely to sell it held to be a violation of .biz’s charter resriction that the name be used for a bona fide commercial purpose, under the Restrictions Dispute Resolution Policy.  Same registrant took the .info version as well, and lost that under the UDRP in a consolidated decision.



21
Jun/02

Genericide of REALTOR Estopped For Now


A local realtor, er, real estate agent, brought this Trademark Trial and Appeal Board action against the National Association of Realtors to cancel its registration for REALTOR as generic.  NAR prevailed but the issue in chief wasn’t tried.  Plaintiff  argued that REALTOR was already a generic term when she had been a member of NAR up unitl 1996, and not that it had become generic after she left NAR.  Thus, under the doctrine of licensee estoppel, she was barred from challenging the rights of her licensor.

Someone who has never been a member of NAR would not have that issue to contend with.



20
Jun/02

Franklin Mint Prevails Over Princess Diana Fund


Princess Diana did not effectively protect the exploitation of her likeness in the U.S. during her lifetime, and her successor in interest, the Princess Diana Fund, failed in the lower court level against the Franklin Mint, which had been making Diana merchandise pretty much from the day of her wedding to Charles.  This Ninth Circuit decision affirms the lower court, and includes an interesting discussion of the post-mortem right of publicity in California, trademark fair use, and the awarding of attorneys fees.



20
Jun/02

Trademark Applications Way Down


My practice is doing fine but this is still depressing.  Interesting discussion of the types of names people are selecting these days.



20
Jun/02

Mouse v. Mouse


This article regarding Disney possibly opposing the Genessee District Libary Book Mouse isn’t as meaningful if you can’t see the actual mouse.



20
Jun/02

Ambush Marketing at the World Cup


50 Chinese fans enter the World Cup stadium in Kwangju, South Korea, and security is alerted.  Preparations are made to intercept them and then averted at the last second.  Why?  Because they were all wearing hats bearing the trademark SAMSUNG, and Samsung is not an official sponsor of the World Cup.  “They’re walking billboards now” laments FIFA’s lawyer.  This from page B1 of today’s Wall Street Journal.



19
Jun/02

Naming and Searching


David Schwimmer (the actor, not my five month old son), played a character named Martin in a movie.  As a result, movie reviews of “Six Days, Seven Nights,” (mostly pans), dominated any Google search for “Martin Schwimmer.”  Finally, as a result of this blog, I have vanquished him to the third O in the GOOOOOOOOGLE results.



19
Jun/02

More On Linking


Most of this Gigalaw how-to article on linking and framing isn’t objectionable, but the best practice suggestion, “Don’t Deep Link Without Permission,” seems like overkill.  There is no caselaw to suggest that deep linking is per se illegal.  The two cases cited involved more than linking, but presumably misappropriation of data. 

Disclaimer: Not being your lawyer (as far as I know), I’m not rendering advice I intend for you to rely upon.  I’m just saying some of the other advice on the Internet perhaps shouldn’t be relied upon.