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    2 Replies Latest reply on May 6, 2011 3:22 PM by Lunar Knight

    Fighting the Internet Word War

    Carlo Wayfarer

      When IT and tech  companies slug it out in legal squabbles about who originally invented  the technical jargon that end users use every day, what are ordinary  speakers of the language to make of it all?


      Microsoft is suing  Apple, and in turn, Apple is fighting it out with Amazon, all over the  right to use a very simple two-word phrase: “app store.” Apple is firm  on its stand, stating that it introduced its App Store in July 2008 as  an online bazaar for its mobile applications. But in January, Microsoft  argued that “app store” had already become a generic expression. Last  week, Amazon joined the fray by introducing its own “Appstore” for  Google’s Android Services. Apple then prompted an infringement case with  Amazon.


      This is just two of  the legal scuffles of companies in the tech industry in which each  company claims rightful ownership of the term. Facebook, for instance,  is infamous in the regard. The famous online networking site has been  claiming trademarks on common four-letter words such as “like,” “wall,”  “poke,” and of course “face” and “book” and has guarded their so-called  trademarks ferociously. For instance, last year, two small start-up  websites, Placebook and the educational site Teachbook, received  warnings from Facebook regarding the use of the word “book” in their  names. Placebook renamed itself, but Teachbook is determined to fight it  out.


      Microsoft had been a  long-time fighter of the word war by fiercely guarding prosaic brand  names such as “Windows,” “Office,” and “Word.” Linux-based operating  system, Lindows, has to change its name to “Linspire” after long years  of debating over whether the word “Windows” was generic or not.


      Christopher  Johnson, a branding expert who runs the website The Name Inspector said  that “there’s a land grab going on” in the information and technology  economy. He added, “Companies are trying to snatch up pieces of our  cultural commons.” He blames the conflict on the increasing scarcity of  available names for trademarks, domain names, or Twitter handles.


      Laurel Sutton,  co-founder of the branding company Catchword, believes that the United  States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is “about 5 Internet years  behind the times” in its keenness to allow tech and Internet giants to  claim generic words as their own.


      “All kinds of stuff  gets approved that shouldn’t have,” she said. “Smaller companies could  be hurt. This type of appropriation of language is only going to  continue unless the USPTO realizes the potential for damage.”


      Jessica Stone Levy,  a Denver-based trademark lawyer laments, “This is not something that  the general public needs to be bent out of shape about. This is really  corporate maneuvering.”


      Observers in  Silicon Valley are shaking their heads about this word war. They  remarked that these giants are wasting an enormous amount of money and  time in trademark proceedings and fighting over little words. They said  that these companies should be developing new products and services  considering that they are innovators of the Information Age.

        • Fighting the Internet Word War
          LUCKIEST Guide

          Good post, Word War

          An occurrence in which two or more writers set a  time limit, such as ten minutes, or thirty minutes, to write or type as  fast as they can on a specific topic or to add onto their current  novel. The person with the highest word count at the end of the time  limit wins the word war.

          A word war may take place on AIM, IM, Gtalk, or any chat services, over the phone, or in real life.
          • Fighting the Internet Word War
            Lunar Knight Wayfarer

            "Your word vs my word" as usual. Everyone is overly latigious these days. It's amazing how ttechnology advances at all with prevalent lawsuits over what seems like miniscule things to most people.