Star*ucked in Delaware

I’m spending more time (much more time) than usual at Starbucks this week. My father has no broadband connection and I don’t have a way to connect my macbook up to his phoneline. Fear not, Starbucks now has free WiFi (with purchase of a $5 giftcard – which isn’t bad because after all I am not coming here and not having something to eat or drink). This morning as I was getting my Grande iced green tea, unsweetened, I scanned the pastries in the case. Some nice looking crumbles sat in their sugary fatty carb-loaded glory. Tempted, yet not succombing, I saw they were labeled as “Artisan” although they clearly are mass-produced.

Hmmm I wonder if trademark law can work in reverse? Is it possible to pursue action against a commercial firm which appropriates normal English words to put a desired (if possibly undeserved) spin on a product? I suppose in the extreme it would constitute fraud. But here, as with another popular word – “natural” – the difference would not likely rise to that level. Still, since companies can trademark words (I can’t open a store and label it Starbucks) can’t we insist that words be used by commercial firms without “spin?”

tag: tilting at windmills


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