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Thursday, August 31, 2006

I say what's the word? Register! 

I have two Jennifers who are both bloggers and MySpace friends, and I've managed to work both of them into a single post.

I really need to bookmark stuff before I throw it away and spout off about it anyway. When the New York Jennifer wrote about Google's effort to protect its trademark with media organizations, I immediately thought of Google's sudden self-interest in copyright and trademark protection. Although I can't find the original link that discussed this, here comes another one (and yes, that is the title of a Monty Python song, and George Harrison was probably somehow associated with the song, he's so fine, don't you know?).

Google has been pooh-poohing authors and publishers, who are suing Google for violating their copyrights by scanning copyrighted books without the copyright holders' permissions. But at the same time Google ignores copyright law, it has developed its own digital-rights-management scheme for protecting copyrighted data downloaded from its new pay-for-video site.

Preston Galla wrote this long before Google mailed its missive:

Search engine giant Google, known for its mantra "don't be evil", has fired off a series of legal letters to media organisations, warning them against using its name as a verb.

Trademark infringement has been on my mind for years for one reason or another, either work-related or due to various personal interests (such as the "googled" thingie above). So imagine what went through my mind when the Ohio Jennifer wrote the following in response to my Katie Couric post:

Where can I get that digital airbrushing software?

I immediately thought of all of the blog posts that I read, but DIDN'T link to for one reason or another. Here are a few examples of the posts that I saw:

Couric Photoshopped

CBS' Katie Couric Photoshopped By Network!

Katie Couric Gets Photoshopped by CBS PR

I think you see where this is going. So let's go there:

Trademarks help protect corporate and product identity, and Photoshop is one of Adobe's most valuable trademarks. By following the below guidelines, you can help Adobe protect the Photoshop brand name.

The Photoshop trademark must never be used as a common verb or as a noun. The Photoshop trademark should always be capitalized and should never be used in possessive form, or as a slang term. It should be used as an adjective to describe the product, and should never be used in abbreviated form.

And if people are saying that Adobe and Google are being silly, and that people will always identify the word with the company, think again:

[I]f a court rules that a trademark has become "generic" through common use (such that the mark no longer performs the essential trademark function and the average consumer no longer considers that exclusive rights attach to it), the corresponding registration may also be ruled invalid.

For example, the Bayer company's trademark "Aspirin" has been ruled generic in the United States, so other companies may use that name for acetylsalicylic acid as well (although it is still a trademark in Canada). Xerox for copiers and Band-Aid for adhesive bandages are both trademarks which are at risk of succumbing to genericide, which the respective trademark owners actively seek to prevent. In order to prevent marks becoming generic, trademark owners often contact those who appear to be using the trademark incorrectly, from web page authors to dictionary editors, and request that they cease the improper usage. The proper use of a trademark means using the mark as an adjective, not as a noun or a verb...though for certain trademarks, use as nouns and, less commonly, verbs is common.

But don't cry for Bayer too much. While they may have lost the aspirin trademark here in the United States, there's another trademark that they also lost, and I bet they're glad they lost it:

Between 1897 and 1914, [Heinrich] Dreser worked for Bayer, the former dye factory that was to become the first of the world's pharmaceutical giants, in Wuppertal, north-west Germany....

As head of Bayer's pharmacological laboratory, he was responsible for the launch of two drugs that have shaped the way we live: aspirin, the world's most successful legal drug; and heroin, the most successful illegal one....

The centenary of heroin is...ambiguous: it was launched in November 1898 but was registered as a trademark in various countries from June that year, most lucratively in the US in August. But whenever the centenary falls, Bayer won't be celebrating....

Like aspirin, the drug that Bayer launched under the trademark Heroin in 1898 was not an original discovery. Diacetylmorphine, a white, odourless, bitter, crystalline powder deriving from morphine, had been invented in 1874 by an English chemist, C R Wright.

But Dreser was the first to see its commercial potential. Scientists had been looking for some time for a non-addictive substitute for morphine, then widely used as a painkiller and in the treatment of respiratory diseases. If diacetylmorphine could be shown to be such a product, Bayer - and Dreser - would hit the jackpot.

Diacetylmorphine was first synthesised in the Bayer laboratory in 1897 - by Hoffmann, two weeks after he first synthesised ASA. The work seems to have been initiated by Dreser, who was by then aware of Wright's discovery, even though he subsequently implied that heroin was an original Bayer invention.

By early 1898 was testing it on sticklebacks, frogs and rabbits. He also tested it on some of Bayer's workers, and on himself. The workers loved it, some saying it made them feel "heroic" (heroisch). This was also the term used by chemists to describe any strong drug (and diacetylmorphine is four times stronger than morphine). Creating a brand name was easy....

But before we pooh pooh this whole thing, we need to look at this invention in the context of the time.

"What we don't recognise now," says David Muso, professor of psychiatry and the history of medicine at Yale Medical School, "is that this met what was then a desperate need - not for a painkiller, but for a cough remedy".

Let's continue with the story:

By 1899, Bayer was producing about a ton of heroin a year, and exporting the drug to 23 countries. The country where it really took off was the US, where there was already a large population of morphine addicts, a craze for patent medicines, and a relatively lax regulatory framework. Manufacturers of cough syrup were soon lacing their products with Bayer heroin....

But worrying rumours were surfacing. As early as 1899, researchers began to report patients developing "tolerance" to the drug, while a German researcher denounced it as "an extremely dangerous poison". By 1902 - when heroin sales were accounting for roughly five percent of Bayer's net profits - French and American researchers were reporting cases of "heroinism" and addiction.

The bandwagon took time to stop. Between 1899 and 1905, at least 180 clinical works on heroin were published around the world, and most were favourable, if cautious. In 1906, the American Medical Association approved heroin for medical use, though with strong reservations about a "habit" that was "readily formed"....

In 1913, Bayer decided to stop making heroin. There had been an explosion of heroinrelated admissions at New York and Philadelphia hospitals, and in East Coast cities a substantial population of recreational users was reported (some supported their habits by collecting and selling scrap metal, hence the name "junkie"). Prohibition seemed inevitable and, sure enough, the next year the use of heroin without prescription was outlawed in the US. (A court ruling in 1919 also determined it illegal for doctors to prescribe it to addicts.)

Eventually, Bayer let its Heroin trademark lapse. So now any "enterprise" can sell heroin without paying Bayer. Hey, Carolyn Kepcher's out of a job - perhaps she can develop a business plan.

From the Ontario Empoblog (Latest OVVA news here)

Hey, I have Photoshop but I can't make it get me to lose 20 pounds. I guess I need a tutorial or something.
I have Photoshop also (the low-end version), but I am lacking something called "artistic skill."
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