Hormel Loses “Spam” Trademark Case Against Anti-Spam Company

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The original makers of spam – and Aunty does mean the meat..well, alleged meat product – Hormel, have lost a trademark law suit against anti-spam software company “Spambuster”.

This particular legal case adds several insults to the injury for Hormel.


To start with, it is a decision from the hallowed halls of justice in the United Kingdom itself – the country which first gave birth to the SPAM craze (in many ways), and which saw the genesis of the act which was ultimately credited with giving the junk email we all know and don’t love the monicker “spam” – the Monty Python spam skit.

Second, Hormel has long been known in the anti-spam industry as being a sort of benevolent trademark holder. The conventional wisdom was always that so long as you didn’t use the term ‘spam’ in all uppercase letters as does Hormel (“SPAM”), and didn’t do anything untoward with the trademark (like, say, take potshots at Hormel or their product), then they would look the other way. And by and large the anti-spam community appreciated their largesse.

A largesse which has, it seems, come back and bitten them on the nose.

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Said the authority in the British case, of Hormel’s lawsuit, “The proposition that someone who encounters computer programming services under the mark Spambuster would think any less of the applicants’ luncheon meat product or be discouraged from purchasing that product is more than a little fanciful.”

I dunno. Trademark law also turns on whether the claimed infringing use of the mark is likely to cause confusion in the eyes of the consuming public. Given that a large percentage of your country’s population seems to confuse SPAM with edible food, Aunty isn’t so sure that the public won’t be similarly confused into thinking that “Spambuster” might be a product designed to compete with SPAM, or a new tin opener or specially designed SPAM knife.

But seriously, Hormel, at least we on this side of the pond appreciate you, even if we don’t appreciate that alleged meat.

 

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The Internet Patrol is and always has been free. We don't hide our articles behind a paywall, or restrict the number of articles you can read in a month if you don't give us money. That said, it does cost us money to run the site, so if something you read here was helpful or useful, won't you consider donating something to help keep the Internet Patrol free?
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