Another unfortunate
September 10, 2002 11:07 AM   Subscribe

Another unfortunate product naming problem (2 links). How would you like your last name to be the same as an upcoming Erectile Dysfunction drug? This family doesn't.
posted by internal (15 comments total)
Haha!... I say "tough tookies" (whatever that means).

My last name is Witty. I've been dealing with it all my life... although the majority of childhood ridicule is over. (Shitty Witty just doesn't command the same attention as it once did.)

Would they rather have the last name Hancock... maybe Butkus?
posted by Witty at 11:14 AM on September 10, 2002

Can't we just all agree to call them "Boner Pills"?
posted by stifford at 11:17 AM on September 10, 2002

From the first article: If the Cialis family succeeds in getting the product renamed, it will cost Eli Lilly around £1m ($1.5m; 1.6m) to rebrand the product for launch and promotion in the United Kingdom alone...

Perhaps Albert should consider changing his last name? The idea that Lilly is going to get up (ah, sorry...) another US$1.5M to rename this because some accountant from Kent is worried about being made fun of down the pub is ridiculous.
posted by JollyWanker at 11:20 AM on September 10, 2002

Does anyone know how their name is pronounced? The drug is pronounced SEE-al-is ("al" sounds like the name "Al" and "is" is pronounced with a short "s" sound, not a "z" sound like in the word "is").
posted by internal at 11:28 AM on September 10, 2002

Hey, instead of fighting the Cialis family they could have my mother's maiden name free of charge, as it's now fallen into disuse due to lack of male descendents and/or female descendents willing to retain it upon marriage: Hardman.
posted by orange swan at 11:36 AM on September 10, 2002

Well, Eli Lilly could find a new name easily enough.

I understand Zyklon just became available again
posted by briank at 12:06 PM on September 10, 2002

"After years of ridicule over his use in dirty limericks, the Man from Nantucket will move out of his home to a new address in the town of Coral Sex."
-Conan O'Brien

That said, I sympathize with the man, and I hate defending the faceless (but stiff) corporation, but his campaign doesn't have a (third) leg to stand on. Unless he trademarked (or the British equivalent) his name, which he can't anymore since the company most likely did, he doesn't have legal rights to it... the only way he could press for damages would be to prove that the company deliberately used him as a reference for creating a name.

An example using American trademark law: I can't sue McDonald's for having opened a restaurant if my last name is McDonald. If my name is Smith, however, and I own a popular hamburger restaurant, I could have grounds to prevent a company from creating and marketing a new food product called "Mr. Smith's hamburgers."

Even though characters are trademarked, their names are only trademarked as far as to the extent of preventing their misuse in relation to the trademarked characters. Hence, to use a real-life example, even though the DC Comic character Harley Quinn is a trademarked and copyrighted character, filmmaker Kevin Smith didn't do anything illegal by naming his newborn daughter Harley Quinn Smith, nor does he owe anyone royalties. Outside of the obvious homage, the fact that the two entities are completely unrelated and will likely never interact in accordance with one another prevents any likely legal grounds that one will interfere with the "reputation" of the other.

I can name my kid Fred Flinstone, I just can't make a cartoon caricature of him dressed as a caveman and sell it on t-shirts. If this drug has the same name as a real human, the only thing they can't legally do is reference that man to sell the product. That's why all movies and fictional entites have that "any similarities..." dialogue in the credits.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 12:19 PM on September 10, 2002

If I was him, I'd be tempted to settle out of court for, say £750k, saving Eli Lilly £250k and pocketing enough money to have my business cards, etc. altered to something less embarassing.
posted by daveg at 12:33 PM on September 10, 2002

Are these names random? Viagra is pronounced the same as (but spelt differently to) the Sanskrit for "tiger" (and I thought Sanskrit words are supposed to be sacred and embody the qualities of their name, if you know what I mean).
posted by carter at 12:52 PM on September 10, 2002

P.S. At least it isn't being marketed by Johnson & Johnson (fnarr, fnarr).e
posted by carter at 12:53 PM on September 10, 2002

If owners of the world's 10 most valuable brands approached trademark lawyers today to clear those marks, doctrinaire lawyers might advise them to avoid over half of them. ~ The Trademark Blog

Towards the bottom of the post they explain why some of the biggies (McDonald's, Disney and Mercedes) might not be able to use those trademarks if they had to abide by today's rules. It's because they are surnames, and that brings in a whole different ball of wax.

Personally, if some big company wanted to use my name fro something, they could ... right after they gave me enough cash to be fat, dumb and happy.
posted by Orb at 12:53 PM on September 10, 2002

carter: Naming brands is an art more than a science. Some companies use random generators to create candidates or just candidate phonemes, and then hone the list down using human teams, research in many different languages, and focus groups to test emotional reaction. Often the names are intended to evoke a word that will seem to be familiar to many, e.g. Cadillac Escalade, but not actually mean anything in particular.

I suspect, then, it is no accident that it resembles the Sanskrit for tiger.

internal: The standard French pronunciation would probably be something like see-AH-lee (silent S). I can't say how the immigrant descendants say it, though (Brits, especially, tend to be especially literal in how they pronounce imported words and names).
posted by dhartung at 1:21 PM on September 10, 2002

These people are being silly.

They aren't thinking things through.

In most countries, trademark law lets you use your personal name on a product even if there is the same name already in use. For example, if my name was "Calvin Klein" I'd be perfectly within my right to call a line of computer products that.

So this family can make some easy cash, and probably live down the ridicule when they tell the joker they have $1m and he doesn't. A line of mints called "Cialis mints" would sound profitable to me...
posted by shepd at 3:07 PM on September 10, 2002

Orb: some of the biggies (McDonald's, Disney and Mercedes) might not be able to use those trademarks if they had to abide by today's rules. It's because they are surnames, and that brings in a whole different ball of wax.

[really nit-picky tiny little quibble]

Mercedes is actually a given name, not a surname.

(Benz is a surname, though.)

posted by Vidiot at 10:02 PM on September 10, 2002

The poor saps don't stand a snowballs chance against a big multinational corporation, Its too bad. Just yesterday day I heard on NPR about the town of Champaign in Switzerland that has been making wine for nearly 900 years(documented) is being forced by the EU to change the name of their product because "Champaign"(a much newer product I think they said 1790's) is trademarked by the french. Even though the swiss wine is 1)older and 2)nothing like the french product read not sparkling
posted by hoopyfrood at 5:21 AM on September 11, 2002

« Older   |   Orlando police find crack cocaine on Gov. Bush's... Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments