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.

Filed Under: intellectual property, ownership, slogan
Companies: american express


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  1. identicon
    Shun, 13 Feb 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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