Once Again, Hormel's Trademark On Spam Does Not Apply To Email

from the meat-like-substance dept

I thought we had gone through this a few years ago when Hormel lost a trademark lawsuit against an anti-spam company. Hormel, of course, is the maker of SPAM, the meat-like substance. It’s had something of a love-hate affair with the use of the word “spam” for email, originally hating it, but later growing to kind of accept it. However, every once in a while it throws up a random trademark lawsuit. Once again, though, a judge has ruled that Hormel’s trademark “does not extend to computer software for filtering spam.” One would have thought that was obvious from way back when, and especially after it started losing cases on that point — but, apparently it just couldn’t resist the salty taste of yet another failed lawsuit.

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Companies: hormel, spam arrest

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Comments on “Once Again, Hormel's Trademark On Spam Does Not Apply To Email”

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GeneralEmergency (profile) says:

"Meat-like substance"?? C'mon Mike...

Ahh…Flexing our culinary snobbery muscles, are we Mike??

Love the Spam(TM).

C’mon everyone, post your favorite Spam(TM) recipes for Mike to try out!

I’ll start:

Slice Spam(TM) 1/8th inch thick. Lay on bed of paper towels. Microwave to death (Crisp and Brown). Allow to cool. If they are still chewey, cook longer.


Rich Kulawiec says:

(1) spam vs SPAM and (2) Spam Arrest

1. This is why the slang term “spam” (which is usually
used in place of the canonical definition, “unsolicited
bulk email”) is never spelled “SPAM”: it’s not an acronym.
Hormel have been very good about this over the years,
considering that we co-opted the name of one of their

2. Spam Arrest are….wait for it…spammers. That’s right,
a supposedly anti-spam company that has spammed to
promote its products. They therefore join spamstrike,
and spamfighter, and fortinet, and others who have no
problem making the spam problem worse…as long as they profit.

Shun says:

Does Hormel need a Kleenex or a Band-Aid?

Face it. Spam has entered the American Lexicon as a generic. There is no such thing as just “SPAM” — the stuff that Hormel makes. You now have to distinguish between unsolicited e-mail and canned meat.

Usually, you can tell what a person is talking about by the context of his/her sentence. Of course, if you are Hormel, or Hormel’s lawyers, you do not have this gift of common sense.

My advice to Hormel is: use the word to promote your products. Instead of hating, embrace. Stick to what you’re good at. Fire your current crop of lawyers, while you’re at it. They obviously know nothing about trademark law.

Brian Hayes (user link) says:

Between a rock and the Bench

I agree entirely that both stupid and capricious lawsuits are too common. Techdirt’s reporting and its commentary are superbly keeping us informed and warning us to be alert.

Yet to own property under our law, we must show we own it and that we are maintaining our ownership. Unless we have a record showing we want to keep our property, it’s easy to lose it. This applies to providing a shortcut over our property that might become public and applies to intellectual property.

Hormel’s lawsuit that seeks to retrieve rights is also a legal record of the effort to keep rights. Are there other methods that stop dilution?

Matthew Stianr (user link) says:

Re: Between a rock and the Bench

Yes, US trademark law states that if you don’t defend your trademark you will lose it. I believe what they were really trying to prevent was some company selling canned meat from defending their use of the name Spam by arguing that Hormel never sued anybody else for using the name. This way, they could show the judge that they had been protecting their trademark and the judge would rule in their favor because the Spam trademark applies to canned meat.

niftyswell says:

that would be a great commercial

I could imagine a great commercial where people are looking at their PC’s and saying – SPAM! at first it looks like they are upset and then when the camera pans around it shows a youtube video of a can of spam being opened and served and then it shows that the people looking at the pc are actually salivating over it.

It ties in the modern negative association and counters it with a positive older association.

I like spam…the oven roasted turkey spam is the best!

what do you think?

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