A Rodenticide By Any Other Name

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A Chinese pharmaceutical company wants to tag its line of rat poisons "Zheng Xiaoyu," which also happens to be the name of the former director of the State Food and Drug Administration. But China's trademark czars aren't having it:

China's Xinhua news agency said that the national trademark administrator had rejected the application.

"It is against China's trademark laws to use a name that has adverse effects on society as a trademark," the agency quoted official sources as saying.

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  1. this is the same ruling, per my understanding, why the Ford Eczema project didn’t get any traction…

  2. To be fair, the US has something similar. Trademarks can’t be offensive or something (anybody a Lanham Act expert?). A few years back somebody sued the Washington Redskins and won at the trial or appellate level (can’t remember). Harjo vs. NFL I think?

  3. Shouldn’t the libertarian viewpoint be that government trademark protection should be done away with altogether? It’s a restriction of free speech.

  4. Dan T.: that might be the position of the Libertarian Party or other libertarians completely opposed to practicality.

  5. I like the idea of a new line of cigarettes named “David Kessler”.

  6. Dan T.,

    Restricting the usage of trademarks make sense in the same contexts as restricting the use of reproductions of a person’s signature and like a signature the idea of a trademark exists independent of legal restrictions on its usage. Hence, the usage of a trademark to indicate the producer or endorser of a product should be restricted to the progenator of the trademark and usage in other contexts should be unrestricted – registration should be looked at as a convienience for resolving legal disputes over whose trademark it is. Government restrictions on what can be registered as a trademark should only serve the purpose of assuring that trademarks can be distinguished from each other.

  7. Trademark law seems to be just a very specific kind of fraud law. You have the obvious kind; someone uses your logo to sell their product to consumers who think they are getting the real deal. But then there is the business of certifications. I maintain a website for my father-in-law who owns a lumber mill. He pays an organization to grade his lumber, and uses their logo on his site and milled products. He also pays an organization to certify the origin of his raw material, that is, that it is from well managed forests using ecologically friendly practices. He uses their logo on the milled products as well as advertisements like the website.

    In the second case infringement of the trademark is almost theft. It’s not as if they have stolen the services of certification, but they have diminished the future value of the product itself. I guess this also might apply to the first case if the imitation is an inferior product.

  8. Trademark used to be designed to avoid fraud and confusion as to the origin of products. Nowadays trademarks are protected like any property right – the big wallet always wins.

  9. The Joycelyn Elders line of sex toys (do it yourself division)?

  10. The thing is, the idea of “intellectual property” is entirely based on the use of government force to restrict freedom of speech.

    Unlike actual physical property, ideas cannot be “owned” or “stolen”. They’re abstract.

    The real irony is that taxes are taken from me by the government in part to prevent me from, say, starting my own magazine called Reason – even though the First Amendment says that I have freedom of speech and should therefore be able to pubish anything I want.

    Sounds like welfare, doesn’t it? The government takes from me to protect the value of ideas “owned” by others.

  11. Dan T.:

    Looks like you’re suffering from the same “lack of all practicality” disease that affects the LP. Think about how your plan would actually work. It would be a world full of cheap shit and duped customers.

  12. Dan T.:

    Looks like you’re suffering from the same “lack of all practicality” disease that affects the LP. Think about how your plan would actually work. It would be a world full of cheap shit and duped customers.

    I know – I’m playing devil’s advocate here for the most part. In fact, the libertarian philosophy has always struck me as one that’s very attractive in theory but pretty impractical in reality.

    But to be honest I just think it’s fun to argue about ideas.

  13. Gotcha. With the Democrats cobbling together their views of big government, and the Republicans holding steady as the party of God, there needs to be a party of libertarian ideas. I’m not talking about the LP, which is more like a think-tank than a party. I’m talking about candidates drawn from right and left whose common ground is their underlying philosophy. The problem with the LP is that their philosophy isn’t “underlying” anything, it’s their platform. That’s cool, but unelectable and, frankly, not reasonable in my book.

  14. So, am I cool to go ahead with my “Dan T. Hemorrhoid Cream”?

  15. So, am I cool to go ahead with my “Dan T. Hemorrhoid Cream”?

    Stevo, that’s perfect branding, considering what a pain in the ass he is.

  16. Dan T.,

    Your point is relevant to copyrights, but it doesn’t really hold up on trademarks. You probably could start a magazine called Reason if you wanted to without running afoul of even the less than ideal trademark laws in existence as long as it didn’t ape the logo design in such a way that somebody wanting to buy the other Reason magazine would be likely to confuse yours with it.

  17. I think this area of law is pretty confusing. E.g. Delta Airlines couldn’t win against Delta Faucets, because, the legal standard, as far as I can understand is “you wouldn’t confuse the two,” but if you named swomething Coca-Cola Tire and Battery, that Coca Cola would probably win against you.

  18. Stevo,

    That’s redundant. It’s just “Dan T. cream”. ­čÖé

  19. I’m not putting Dan T’s Cream anywhere near any sensitive parts.

  20. MattXIV: You are sort of right. About the one thing he couldn’t start is a magazine called Reason. Everything else is technically fair game for a product or service called Reason. Increasingly, however, companies are able to argue that the other guys use of the mark takes away a market they were planning to go into. So, let’s say that I want to market The Reason Crew action figures. I’m going to write a comic book, have the dolls made, and advertise. Reason the Magazine could stop me from doing that if they could prove that they were going to enter the market with their own “The Reason Crew” action figures. It wouldn’t matter that my action figures would be fat dorks with coffee stains where they might pee their pants, and the Magazine’s action figures are for Catalonian porn role play. There is also the issue of diluting another’s trademark. This means that even if somebody doesn’t confuse your product for mine, if your product has a similar name and it makes my product look bad, I can stop you. Ultimately, I see it as the most expensive lawyers win.

  21. The US has something similar–can’t use the name or likeness of a living person without getting permission from that individual.

    (There was a very funny rejection from the Trademark office some time badk–some guy wanted to register an image which was a caricature of John Kerry dressed as Osama Bin Laden and labeled as such. Trademark office rejected it, pointing out that the applicant didn’t have signed permission from the individuals involved. Commentator pointed out that even if Kerry signed off on this, getting Osama’s signature might be a wee bit difficult…..)

  22. …for a product or service called Reason…

    Does everyone have to drink if the rule is fulfilled through selective quoting?

  23. Stevo wins the thread.

  24. Jake:

    yessir. We do. Whatllyahhave

    /pours generous portion to Mr. Boone!

    (media – Stevo wins every thread

    /raises glass *cheers*

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