Time For A Moron In A Hurry To Explain The Difference Between Microprocessors And A Trip To China

from the it's-not-that-hard,-really dept

Intel is famous for being overly aggressive in trying to enforce its trademark, often claiming rights over almost any use of the prefix "intel" to anyone using the phrase "something inside," even if it's completely unrelated to the business that Intel is in. Trademark, of course, is not intended to give a company "ownership" of a word or phrase. Instead, it's a consumer protection system, designed to prevent consumers from being tricked into believing that they're buying a good from one company instead of another. That's why trademarks are only applicable in the business area that the company is using the mark. Thus, Johnny's Soda doesn't interfere with a trademark on Johnny's Dry Cleaning -- because they're totally separate businesses. That's also why we have the moron in a hurry test. If a "moron in a hurry" is unlikely to be confused by the use of the mark, then there's no trademark infringement.

Unfortunately, that hasn't stopped Intel from trying. Over the years they've gone after a maker of jeans (Intel Jeans), a marketing firm (for using the term INTELMARK for one of its products) and an artist's cooperative for using the name "Art Inside") among various other cases over the years. Its latest is to go after a travel agency called Intellife Travel that books trips between the US and China. The travel agency clearly explained to Intel that unless Intel's trademark covered the travel business, there was unlikely to be any infringement. Intel took a year to think about it... and then filed a lawsuit. Hopefully, Intel gets smacked down quickly on this clear abuse of trademark law.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Twinrova, Sep 26th, 2008 @ 4:05am

    I was watching the news last night...

    and statements were being made about possible bank runs and how many banks aren't going to survive this recession by the time it breaks.

    I couldn't help but relate the news story to many of the blogs posted on Techdirt, especially involving corporate greed.

    The two go hand-in-hand and this is a clear example of how Intel's profits are being wasted on frivolous lawsuits while passing these charges to the consumer.

    I'm not sure who said it, but I can't get the phrase about how Americans are greedy to demand such high wages out of my head when coming here. Is it really our fault we "demand" high wages or is it a necessity when stupid things companies do force our hand to do so?

    I was told with age comes patience, but something's not working within me. I'm not being patient as I watch company after company force more ads to me, using software to track my every move, preventing me from doing what I want with products I've purchased, and telling me I can't do this or that without "severe" consequences.

    My attempts to make change are futile at best. Even blogs posted here on Techdirt don't really change a damn thing. Letters don't work. Outcries don't work. Consumers won't stop purchasing, which is the only way it will work.
    (Take the EA DRM example: People knew there was DRM but still bought it anyway. Now they're suing. What asses these idiots are and I certainly hope the case is thrown out.)

    It's getting to the point where being a consumer is no different than being found guilty without a trial. It sucks and trying to get the younger generation to understand this is taxing. Personally, I don't believe they're educated enough to understand, but that's a different topic for another day.

    Maybe I should just quit trying, shut up, and just start suing the crap out of every company who treats me unfairly.

    I can only hope this action will change things, given they think it does so for them.

     

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  2.  
    identicon
    SteveD, Sep 26th, 2008 @ 4:18am

    Its time things were changed

    I know America has an irrational love of lawsuits just about on par with its love of firearms, but isn't it about time the legal system was changed to penalise companies like Intel that throw around these frivolous lawsuits just because they can?

    Its not like Intel doesn't employ a lot of very well paid lawyers that quite frankly should know better....

     

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  3.  
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    some old guy, Sep 26th, 2008 @ 5:01am

    Re: Its time things were changed

    I know America has an irrational love of lawsuits just about on par with its love of firearms...

    What? Which America is this that you are talking about? The America I live in (US of A) has nothing but an irrational FEAR of firearms.

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    SteveD, Sep 26th, 2008 @ 5:16am

    Re: Re: Its time things were changed

    Isn't a fear of firearms rational?

    Here, let me point this gun at you and we'll check.

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    Jason, Sep 26th, 2008 @ 5:21am

    Re: Re: Re: Its time things were changed

    Nope, because I have one too.

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    Keith, Sep 26th, 2008 @ 5:29am

    wow...it only took 5 comments and we went from intel suing a travel agent to 2 guys pointing guns at one another.

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    Chief Elf, Sep 26th, 2008 @ 5:36am

    Intel's lawyers

    Obviously, Intel's lawyers aren't as capable as a moron in a hurry.

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    MAtt, Sep 26th, 2008 @ 5:43am

    Re: Re: Re: Its time things were changed

    Respect what firearms can do, and don't point them at someone unless you plan to shoot them. The only thing we have to fear is idiots fearing things.

    How often do these lawsuits, when decided against the party arguing the obviously faulty case, include a provision where they pay the defendant's legal fees?

    Perhaps this all comes down to poor education. The respected position of judge and lawyer are apparently being manned by buffoons, products of a self-centered, short-sighted society.
    Currently I boycott Intel (I run an AMD processor at home), but it is only a matter of time (new Mac, Windows PC processor upgrade) until I have to seriously consider whether or not their CPU is the best choice. Ouch.

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    Ferd, Sep 26th, 2008 @ 6:21am

    Intel

    Do you know how easy it is to *not* choose to use a certain company's products? Companies with tiny bottom lines rarely have the luxury of greed.

    I choose to use one of four different internet providers (cable, dial-up, satellite, DSL). I choose which auto manufacturer to purchase from. I choose to buy locally grown food at the grocery store, or go to farmers market when possible (even grew my own veggies past few years). I can choose AMD (or Apple - ugh, or Cyrix once upon a time) over Intel. I can choose NVidia over the competition. I can choose a bank with sound lending practices, or an investment firm with diverse portfolios and historically moderate returns. I can choose to spend a couple extra bucks at "Luke's Hardware" instead of heading over to the Super Walmart (where the extra gas to get there offsets the few bucks I might save).

    My point is, we are not mindless drones, subliminally forced into repeat purchases, rabid product loyalty (unless, again, Apple - ugh), and excess spending on corporate giant's products.

    You don't like some greedy corporation? Don't buy their junk. Tell your friends and family to not buy their junk. Take out ads telling the world not to buy their junk. But, just don't sit there poking pointy sticks at Intel, Starbucks, Johnson & Johnson, and Walmart, while doing it from your Walmart purchased pressboard desk, drinking your hot Starbucks coffee after an invigorating shower taken with your J&J soap, and typing it all out on your Intel-driven scream-machine :P

    cheers

     

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  10.  
    icon
    MadJo (profile), Sep 26th, 2008 @ 6:26am

    Monster Cable?

    Does Intel have the same eedjits, I mean, lawyer firm as Monster Cable?

    Intel: No intelligence inside?

    Next, they're suing CIA, because they were gathering intel on terrorists.

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    Ima Fish, Sep 26th, 2008 @ 6:52am

    The thing that really makes me mad about Intel's approach to trademark is that "intel" is a real world, well a real abbreviation of a word. It's been around for a lot longer than the company Intel. But yet Intel thinks it should be the sole entity allowed to use it commercially. It's simply asinine that they think they should own a word.

    If a company wants to own a word, they should make one up. Of course that does not always work. It didn't work with "Aspirin." But at least the company can take some moral high ground.

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 26th, 2008 @ 7:09am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Its time things were changed

    Disclaimer: I do not belong to the NRA and do not own a gun.

    MAtt (Comment #8) has pretty much hit the nail on the head.

    Firearms can kill if you let it. Just like a knife can kill if you let it. Hell just like a wire or coat hanger or pillow can kill if you let it.

    Do not fear the tool. Fear the person wielding the tool. If you don't trust someone would you like to have your back to them knowing they have a claw hammer in hand?

    If you are afraid of an inanimate object, you are a coward. Don't let your fear take away your humanity. Don't let your fear take away your rights.

    Know that people cause problems for people. Nothing else. We've mastered all but the gravest threats nature can throw at us. Unless a storm or wildfire threatens us, and even then we are just displaced, the only threat to humanity is humanity itself.

    To fear is human. This is why we honor the courageous (not just talking about soldiers/warriors either). But to be overwhelmed by nothing but fear that you would declare it a crime to posses the object of your fears is flatly ridiculous. It's the same as covering your ears and closing your eyes and screaming "I can't hear you!" over and over again when someone says something you don't like.

    In short, its childish. America needs to grow up.

     

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  13.  
    icon
    chris (profile), Sep 26th, 2008 @ 7:25am

    Re: Intel

    I choose to use one of four different internet providers (cable, dial-up, satellite, DSL).

    if you live in the US, chances are there is only one DSL provider in your town and only one cable provider. chances are the DSL provider will only let you have DSL if you pay for telephone service as well. same for cable and satellite. dialup is an inferior product, and requires phone service as well (though this is a technological requirement rather than a business decision).

    I can choose AMD (or Apple - ugh, or Cyrix once upon a time) over Intel.

    apple switched to intel processors a few years ago. unless you are buying a g5 or earlier from ebay, buying from apple is buying from intel.

    My point is, we are not mindless drones, subliminally forced into repeat purchases, rabid product loyalty (unless, again, Apple - ugh), and excess spending on corporate giant's products.

    most consumers are mindless drones that don't know anything about the products they use other than what the commercials tell them. corporations spend lots in the media making sure this is the case.

    there is a concerted effort made by many companies to build a monopoly or oligopoly in a given market (see phone and cable companies, intel, microsoft) and use that position to keep others out of their markets.

    money is wasted myopically protecting these monopolies rather than allowing these markets to grow.

     

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  14.  
    icon
    Genius (profile), Sep 26th, 2008 @ 9:31am

    Intel

    Intelligent, it's not how pretty the girl is but what's inside that counts.

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 26th, 2008 @ 10:07am

    Re: Re: Intel

    Yep everyone is an idiot except you and you have it all figured out. Dang it, run for president. Your platform could be you are all morons, so vote for me.

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 26th, 2008 @ 10:13am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Its time things were changed

    I hate it when a pillow accidently goes off in my hand and I kill someone :)

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 26th, 2008 @ 10:17am

    Re: Re: Intel

    Actually, in Columbus, OH, we have four different cable broadband provideers: Insight, Time Warner, WOW, & AT&T. I have Insight, which is really good. No caps, and no throttling. Good HDTV package, too.

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 26th, 2008 @ 10:20am

    Re:

    Actually, "Google" is a number, just like "million" or "billion." But that didn't stop them. If you can trademark a number, you can trademark a word.

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 26th, 2008 @ 10:56am

    Re: Re:

    Actually Googol is a number, Google is a gigantic internet search provider, software developer, philanthropic organization, capital investment player, etc...

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    Tony, Sep 26th, 2008 @ 10:59am

    Re: Re:

    Umm, no:

    "googol" is a number. "Google" is not.

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 26th, 2008 @ 11:14am

    Stay on Topic

    I agree that this is abuse, the lawyers know the law and are trying to intimidate another organization in the hopes that the threat of legal action will be enough to elicit their desired results (a name change). Ultimately the litmus test for successful trademark violation lawsuits involves proof of dilution of tradmark value. In this case, the product lines are so divergent even a moron would know that they are different companies.

    This isnt about corporate GREED. Tech Dirt's threads always turn into a socialist/communist soap box where every yahoo (oops hope I dont get sued) attempts to preach against the sins of capitalism.

    Companies grow because they are offering value to their consumers (Intel has never been the sole producer of microprocessors and has always faced competition to some degree). If the value offered by a competitor (including brand recognition, product quality, production capacity, etc.) were greater than the value Intel could deliver, Intel would lose market share to that competitor. This has happened in the past but Intel quickly adapted, and that is key to staying competitive - the ablity to rapidly adapt to changes in the market environment.

    Stop turning every Tech Dirt thread into a liberal rant and maybe people will start to take what you say seriously. This thread should discuss the issue at hand, abuse of trademark litigation. The thread should never have become a sounding board for liberal activists who would prefer that the government make all their decisions for them.

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    aa, Sep 26th, 2008 @ 11:44am

    Trademark Law

    While I agree with Mike wholeheartedly, in theory, I think that US trademark law functions more broadly than he has described it. Mind you, I am only a law student, so take what I say with however many grains you wish, but here goes:

    TM law may have started as a consumer protection device, but it has long since expanded beyond its roots to also become a protector of brand names, in themselves. The doctrine of dilution is the major culprit behind this evolution and it expands TM protection even to non-competitive products in situations where there is no likelihood of consumer confusion. It sucks, but I think this is true.

    Also, I think the "moron in a hurry" test is British. I do not believe it is held in US case law. Rather, many courts go out of their way to assert that confusion doctrines are not meant to protect only those of common intelligence, but also those most foolish and gullible. Again, this sucks and leads to strange results, but I think it is a common case law refrain.

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    JS, Sep 26th, 2008 @ 12:41pm

    Shorty on Guns

    Yes. Guns are faster and more deadly than other weapons. In my area we've had quite a few younger kids killing their siblings because they thought the gun was a toy. Not intentional.

    I don't hear about tiny kids killing with knives or wire hangers.

    Fear the tool when appropriate.

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    John, Sep 27th, 2008 @ 4:04pm

    A few points

    First, I think the legal system should be changed so the loser in the case has to pay all of the winner's expenses. If Intel knew there was a chance that they would lose and have to pay millions, then they probably wouldn't file suit.
    But, instead, they know nothing will happen if they lose... and in the mean time, they'll get extra publicity and they'll have fun scaring the travel agency.

    Second, yes, consumers are mostly mindless drones. They complain that Wal-Mart is putting the mom & pop stores out of business, yet they continue shopping there.

    Hmmm... is Wal-Mart actually doing this? Are they putting a gun to people's heads and forcing them to shop there? If people were really concerned about supporting local businesses, they'd pay a little more just to make sure Joe's Corner Hardware stays in business for another 50 years.

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    Ludvig, Oct 1st, 2008 @ 6:21am

    sueing

    People use to say you gotta do three thing in your life: write a book, have a child, plant a tree. In United States (note I won't call it America, for it is the name of the whole continent, not the nation's name, regardless of what U.S.A. inhabitants say) there is one more thing required: sue somebody. Your life won't be complete if you donĀ“t do it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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