My Life. My Card. My Intellectual Property Battle.

from the the-world-we-live-in dept

Barely a day goes by when we don't hear of yet another story about some sort of intellectual property claim being asserted where it doesn't belong. It's a function of a current culture where people are being incorrectly taught that every idea, every concept, every word and every sound should be protected and "owned" despite the fact that these things, by their very nature, are infinite and can be freely shared at no cost to anyone. The latest such case involves a guy who apparently pitched the slogan "My Card. My Life" to American Express a while back. Soon afterwards, entirely independently, AmEx's own ad agency pitched the same slogan, which is now being used. After discovering that the other guy was trying to trademark (we assume, even though the article claims "patent") the phrase, AmEx sued to get a declaratory judgment that its use of the phrase did not infringe. Thankfully, a judge has agreed that no infringement occurred. Yet, in this age, where we're being incorrectly bombarded with the message that ideas can be owned and protected, it's no surprise that American Express would worry about such a thing.


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  1.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 12th, 2008 @ 10:47pm

    If he pitched it to them and they did not pay him and are using it - AMex is wrong! In this case, he got ripped, they took his idea and used it and did not compensate him at all - Would they have thought of that slogan?

     

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  2.  
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    Mike (profile), Feb 12th, 2008 @ 11:22pm

    Re:

    As I noted in the post they came up with it *independently*. It was a different group. No one seems to deny that it was independently developed.

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 13th, 2008 @ 2:20am

    "...a guy who apparently pitched the slogan "My Card. My Life" to American Express a while back. Soon afterwards, entirely independently,..."


    YEAH RIGHT!!!!! So they say -

     

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  4.  
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    Trevlac, Feb 13th, 2008 @ 3:08am

    It can be an independent idea. I mean think about this, the think tanks that come up with marketing ideas are not the same execs that hear about them from individuals. Also think that with a hired staff of dozens or hundreds (depending on AmEx's devotion to ad campaigns) working around the clock and excersizing creative juices, someone was bound to come up with that slogan. I_would_have thought of it within the first day of my working for AmEx.

    It's also not surprising they used it. A while back slogans weren't supposed to be that simplistic, now all of them are. So re-pitch the same idea independently at a different time and it might be used.

     

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    DrFruit, Feb 13th, 2008 @ 4:03am

    I suppose the people who believe the agency came up with that slogan independently, also believe GWBush came up with the plan to save our planet by reducing our dependency on foreign oil independently.

    About this being something they were bound to come up with, that is what people say about any good idea... in hindsight.

    My guess is, they heard his pitch, thought "Why didn't we think of that, no way we are going to pay a lot of money for it" and decided to have their regular agency 'pitch' the slogan at a standard fee. Hard to prove though.

     

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  6.  
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    Daniel, Feb 13th, 2008 @ 4:44am

    Its absurd that he tried to trademark it, its only 4 words and pretty generic ones at that.

    You can't tell me none of the other card companies has ever thought of this and had an idea pitched by one of the marketing teams?

     

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    DrFruit, Feb 13th, 2008 @ 5:00am

    'To be or not to be' is only five words but most people know who wrote them and it is hard to use them without ackownledging him now. And he did not even have to trademark them.

    An idea is not better if it contains more words.

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 13th, 2008 @ 5:18am

    Re:

    So teh high priced agency is better than one guy that would be happy with half the cash they useualy spend? Yea onetime i told a guy at a mcdonalds that they should use mc infront over everything they sell and now they do it i wand my mc money

     

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    DrFruit, Feb 13th, 2008 @ 5:26am

    I tried to trademark 'Hey!'. Too bad it didn't work, I would have been the richest man on the planet (just from soccer players and coaches).

     

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    Willton, Feb 13th, 2008 @ 6:05am

    The ignorance of trademark laws is palpable here

    One thing you folks need to understand: anything can be trademarked, as long as it is actually used in connection with goods or services. It does not matter if they mark is a mere 4 words, such as "Have It Your Way" or "My Life. My Card."; such a formulation of words is a valid trademark.

    The problem that tripped up this guy, however, is that he has never used the mark in connection with any goods or services. One cannot own a trademark unless one uses said trademark.

     

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  11.  
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    Bob, Feb 13th, 2008 @ 6:07am

    You have to wonder

    If the ad agency really came up with it independently, why did they not like it the first time they heard it?

    There is presentation and there is Presentation.

    If the pitch was really just the 4 four words then Amex is on shaky ground here. If they didn't like it when he presented it, I think it is their responsibility to disclose why they liked it the second time they heard it.

     

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    Paul, Feb 13th, 2008 @ 6:54am

    Re: You have to wonder

    Could have been pitched to a different executive(s). Could have come at a different time. What works in the market fluctuates. As someone stated a few posts back, slogans even fluctuate from being simplistic or not. "Got Milk?" may not always have worked. Timing is very important in advertising.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 13th, 2008 @ 7:10am

    Re:

    You're right, it has to be attached to something valuable.

    I have to admit a touch of disgust in comparing SHAKESPEARE to an American Express slogan.

     

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  14.  
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    Honymous McCoward, Feb 13th, 2008 @ 7:15am

    Re: Re:

    Maibe ewe shood lurn tu spale

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 13th, 2008 @ 11:39am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Oh, he spells great, it's just his typing that stinks.

     

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    DrFruit, Feb 13th, 2008 @ 2:35pm

    Re: Re:

    Nobody compared the two.

     

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    Shun, Feb 13th, 2008 @ 8:09pm

    Hard to prove

    The problem here is that it is impossible to prove, after the fact, that person A came up with phrase C, independently of person B. If Mr. Ad Slogan Idea Man were a super-genius, he would use this episode to figure out a better way of protecting his "intellectual property". I would suggest, minimally, using a notebook. Maybe he can put all of his ideas on powerpoint slides, then print them out when he pitches them.

    Too bad, you got burned on this one. Serves you right for trusting the Big Company. This is American Express, a credit card company. Like the Fake Bill Gates said on The Simpsons episode. "I didn't get to be the world's richest man by buying people out." Me, I'd have had a fool-proof solution to these kinds of shenanigans.

    Have "My Life, My Card" printed on your business card. In fact, you can make it "My Life, My Card, My Trademark" just to drive the point home. Naturally, he can't use that exact phrase, but anyone presented with that card would have remembered it.

    I'm skeptical of the ability of committees' abilities to come up with something so simple. Then again, I'm skeptical of committee abilities generally. I would expect the following from American Express corporate: "The Card that Lets You Do Anything, Anytime, Anywhere." Just rolls off the tongue, eh? Design-by-committee tends to produce abominations like Windows Vista.

     

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  18.  
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    IPLAW, Mar 20th, 2008 @ 5:47pm

    AmEx is still dealing with a case right now.

    as posted here and many other blogs....
    http://adweek.blogs.com/adfreak/2006/09/my_card_my_work.html
    http://www.exclusiverights. net/200628
    This is something that AmEx has been dealing with for some time now. This guy (Okeefe) seems to have a strong case. Who knows.

    anyways that's my .02cents

     

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  19.  
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    AKINSUROJU BUNMEX, Mar 28th, 2008 @ 6:12am

    biochemistry

    to attain my future goal,the foot step

     

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  20.  
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    Akinsuroju, Feb 20th, 2009 @ 5:03am

    Science.go

     

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