December 14, 2006
Product Naming: BlackBerry Deals BlackJack a Lawsuit
As we reported in yesterday's Links du Jour, the company that developed the BlackBerry, Research In Motion (RIM), is suing Samsung over the similar-sounding BlackJack brand name.
There's actually a lot of depth to TechNewsWorld story about the lawsuit that relates to name development and trademark analysis. RIM is taking issue at the product naming of Samsung’s BlackJack and Black Carbon lines of phones.
RIM claims that Samsung is guilty of “false designation of origin” by using these names to trick people into believing the phones are related to the Blackberry, the undisputed champion of push email enabled smart phones that are so addictively popular that people call them “CrackBerries.” In fact, “CrackBerry” is the word of the year according to the staff at Webster’s New College Dictionary.
This is not the first time competitors have tried to build brand equity for sound-alike naming: China has a Redberry, amazingly. And, as the article points out, Windows has had several similar problems: its settlement to get Linux-based “Lindows” changed to “Linspire” being a case in point, given the confusion with "Windows."
Companies like RIM are so keen on protecting the integrity of their very popular brand names because the spectre of genericization clearly hangs over Blackberry: the trademark could become the generic term for push email phones, much like Kleenex is for tissues and Xerox is for copies. But is RIM taking things too far?
Many bloggers are saying that RIM simply cannot trademark the word “Black." The MiniMage blogger asks, “So what's next? Should expert martial artists start wearing grey belts? Should we eliminate blackjack at casino tables to prevent misdirected tech support calls? Perhaps RIM will want BlackICE software to change their name to InvisibleICE!”
Remember when blackberries were just sweet little things you picked off a bush?
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