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IP: Registered Trademark
From: Dave Farber <farber () cis upenn edu>
Date: Thu, 10 Dec 1998 17:10:24 -0500

From: "John F. McMullen" <johnmac () acm org>
To: "Dave Farber" <farber () cis upenn edu>, "Declan McCullagh" <declan () well com>

After writing a column for the Westchester Business Journal that contained
the term "listserv", a term that I have used since 1989 in articles, columns
and in teaching at college and university level, I received the enclosed
message from Connie Newman at L-Soft, chastizing me for using a Registered
TradeMark of her firm. After breiefly discussing the letter with Dave Faber,
I replied to Connie asking when L-Soft had filed the trademark. She
responded "The trademark is U.S. Reg. #2,001,258 for LISTSERV registered
September 17, 1996.".

While L-Soft may have acted within the framework of the law, I find this
situation intellectually insulting - like me attempting to register "telnet"
or "ftp" as registered trademarks of McMullen & McMullen, Inc.
I did a quick check through books in the extensive McMullen library. "The
Internet Unleashed", Sams, 1994 states "Listservs are one of the most
accessible Internet resources .." (p 320) and then goes on for 46 pages
describing the use. Esther Dyson on page 44 of Release 2.1 uses the term.
"The Internet for Dummies Quick Reference" defines Listserv as "a family of
programs that automatically manages mailing lists .. " .. and I have found a
number of other references - all but the first since 1996 - and none refer
to it as a Registered TradeMark.
What about e-mail addresses like listserv () american edu? Is that a violation?
I may be making too much of this but I find it galling. This is not a case
of an uninformed public using a term like "Xerox" or "Coke" incorrectly.
This is an outfit that had to know better grabbing a generic term and making
it a brand name (In fact, one of the books that I came across refers to it
as a "generic term"). As far as I'm concerned, this is intellectually
Please distribute this for comments to johnmac () acm org or on Dave Faber's
list. I would hope that Jamie Love would be interested in something like
this as well as our various net attorneys. I will write about it - but would
like to see some outrage and, perhaps, action

-----Original Message-----
From:   Connie Newman [mailto:connie () lsoft com]
Sent:   Wednesday, December 09, 1998 4:21 PM
To:     johnmac () acm org
Subject:        Registered Trademark

It has come to our attention that you are using the term LISTSERV (r) to
describe electronic mail distribution lists in your article, "Spam and other
electronic annoyances"  Unfortunately, that term is a registered trademark.
It is a common mistake to use LISTSERV (r) as a generic term.  It would be
helpful if you would replace it in the future with another phrase, such as
"mailing list" or "announcement service".
We apologize if this causes any inconvenience.  Your attention to this
matter is greatly appreciated.
Please contact me with any concerns or questions.

Connie Newman

Connie Newman <connie () lsoft com>
L-Soft international, Inc.

"When you come to the fork in the road, take it" - L.P. Berra
John F. McMullen
johnmac () acm org ICQ: 4368412
http://www.westnet.com/~observer/Y2KCOACH.html (Y2K Site)

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