Proprietary Pork
July 10, 2003 3:03 PM   Subscribe

If someone says spam, tacky unsolicited emails usually come to mind instead of that meat product. Watch Hormel fight back to assert their trademark rights.
posted by illusionaire (14 comments total)
Early Internet users coined the term spam to describe junk e-mail after a skit by the comedy group Monty Python. In the routine, a group of patrons at a restaurant chant the word "spam" in louder and louder volume, drowning out other conversation.

Clearly, this reporter has seen the skit many, many times.
posted by cortex at 3:28 PM on July 10, 2003

Compare this, from over two years ago. Methinks Hormel hasn't a chance here.
posted by mr_roboto at 3:31 PM on July 10, 2003

This statement is still on the official Hormel SPAM site.

It includes most of the explanation cortex quoted, so the reporter can't entirely be blamed for that.
posted by squant at 3:36 PM on July 10, 2003

Ooh, good catch, squant. Slightly less crappy reporting, then.
posted by cortex at 3:48 PM on July 10, 2003

if it's a trademark doesn't it have to actively be protected (by the trademark holder) ? or am I thinking about something else?
posted by shadow45 at 3:57 PM on July 10, 2003

Considering that Victoria's Secret lost a Supreme Court case against Victor's Secret, which has a similar name and product, I don't think Hormel has a chance against a completely unrelated product from a company in a different industry. They've already lost the mindshare (most people think "spam" means junk email, not delicious meat-like goodness). And according to the Washington Post article, "On its Web site, [Hormel] states that it does not object to use of the word spam as a 'slang term,' as long as pictures of the meat are not used with such references." Seems like a pretty weak case to me.
posted by kirkaracha at 4:08 PM on July 10, 2003

Did anyone every think that "spam" was delicious meat-like goodness.

Oh, right.
posted by bshort at 4:12 PM on July 10, 2003

Hormel should just relax--I've tasted spam and I'm not sure it's any more desirable than the other kind!
posted by billsaysthis at 4:13 PM on July 10, 2003

BZZZZTTT too late.. the trademark is already to diluted. they should have worked this out 10 years ago, and besides they can sue every entity into the dust with 'spam' in the name.. it wont work.. the whole internet calls it spam.
posted by MrLint at 7:52 PM on July 10, 2003

My favorite part of the article was this quote from Spam Arrests chief executive:
"Hormel is acting like a corporate crybaby and ought to can it."

posted by untuckedshirts at 8:27 PM on July 10, 2003

I can see how the word spam over the internet can be percieved as a defamation of trademark name, but why attack an effort to minimize the "spam", anyway? How stupid. How ironic. Hormel should walk away slowly, and respectfully.
posted by Keyser Soze at 8:51 PM on July 10, 2003

I think they're being quite reasonable about it. And SPAM is delicious. And they're not such a micky mouse organisation that they want people to stop using the word spam. They just want people to (a) remove the word spam from products and (b) stop people using the phrase SPAM when they mean spam.

Also, I'd argue that spam (as a phrase meaning unsolicited mail) has only really entered the public conciousness in the last three or four years.
posted by seanyboy at 6:49 AM on July 11, 2003

Hormel should just give up and save itself the lawyer fees.

The funny thing about this article is they got the origin of the slang use wrong. It actually began circa early 1991 on MUDs, Multi-User Domains/Dungeons, which are interacting text based environments where users can roleplay or chat. The term Spam, borrowed from the Monty Python skit, was coined when a newbie, or a user with malicious intent, would log on and start to post large volumes of text just to get attention. This would cause the important dialogue would get 'Spammed' off the screen. A real problem as most people were on 2400 baud modems or slower at the time. Eventually the offender would get @toad'd (turned into a toad) and forced to behave or be kicked off the MUD. Only from there did it make its way to the current reference to junk e-mail.
posted by IndigoSkye at 8:15 AM on July 11, 2003

Let's not forget the lawsuit that Hormel filed against Jim Henson Productions, because the writers gave a pig in the movie Muppet Treasure Island the name Spa'am.
posted by jonp72 at 3:04 AM on July 13, 2003

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