23. September 2010 · Comments Off on The Tyranny of Trademarking Acronyms · Categories: Social/Culture · Tags: ,

There is a personal organization program that used to be called “MonkeyGTD”. I always thought that was a good name because “GTD” has become recognized as an acronym for “Getting Things Done” and “MonkeyGTD” is a program for helping you do that. Now I’m going to be fair and point out that in 2001 a certain “David Allen” wrote a book called “Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity” and as far as I know, he is the first one to use the term “Getting Things Done” as a specific reference to a methodology in a publication. So I have no problem giving credit to Allen for coining the term. But last night I noticed that Simon Baird, the author of “MonkeyGTD” was at some point informed by David Allen’s company that he couldn’t use the three-letter combination “GTD” in the name for his product because Allen’s company registered ownership of the acronym. So Baird had to come up with a new name, eventually deciding on the much less interesting name, mGSD. Now even though Baird complied with out complaint, after all the law is the law, from a social perspective, I still have a bone to pick with the way Allen is claiming ownership of a three-letter acronym and with the laws that allow it.

I can understand the registered trademark on a name for an entity like IBM™ but “GTD” isn’t the name of Allen’s company, it’s an acronym for a particular methodology he came up with for organizing your stuff (which isn’t exactly rocket science folks). More to the point, Baird wasn’t calling his product “GTD”… the acronym was only part of a larger word and I think this is the critical thing to point out. There are only 17,576 possible three-letter combinations using our alphabet – what happens if we let people like Allen gradually buy up the ownership of each of these combinations? How would anyone come up ANY name for a ANYTHING if they can’t even be allowed as a part of a name? I understand that sometimes we want to label our ideas especially if they form the basis of something you take to the market, but I think we also need to safeguard our language and the freedom for people to use it.

I’ll give credit to Allen for developing and publishing the GTD® methodology, even though he didn’t invent the idea of using productivity tools, or paper, or any component of his methodology and I’m certain he wasn’t the first one to actually use them the way he prescribes, but I’ll give him due credit for the efforts it took to actually present them in a book. But I think his ownership of a three-letter acronym that he uses to describe what I consider to be a common sense methodology and telling people like Baird that he can’t even use it as a part of a name is just plain ridiculous and it’s a clear example of how the tyranny of ownership subtracts from the freedom of our language.

03. February 2004 · Comments Off on Declining middle-class? Sell cheap in bulk · Categories: Social/Culture · Tags: , ,

Apple and Pepsi got a deal going where Pepsi drinkers may find codes in their Pepsi bottles for a free song download from the iTunes Music Store. Apple and Pepsi will be giving away 100 million songs during this promo zap, obviously aimed at the lucrative teenage music collectors. Pepsi kicked off it’s multimillion dollar ad campaign last super-bowl Sunday.

You may have noticed, there’s also a big deal going on in L.A. where lawyers from the entertainment industry are getting ready to rumble with the attorneys for Grokster and StreamCast in front of a three judge panel from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Interesting. The super-bowl Pepsi ad actually featured 20 teens who were sued by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for downloading music. I understand that these kids can pass around a lot of burn, but they spend their money too. I’m sure there are more kids buying CD’s than ever before and I bet most of them are downloading and burning too. I just can’t see how an entertainment industry, fat enough to spend millions on all these second rate artists, can slap 14 year old kids with $3,000 lawsuits. It’s kinda like the big school yard bully pushing around a little girl.

And like hell, ‘they’re loosing money’. What they’re loosing is ‘potential money’. Let’s at least get that straight.

So the recording industry needs to turn the peer-to-peer networks into an advantage. So lawsuits, lobbies and deals. Now we have 99 cent downloads for individual songs. Everyone wins, which is a good thing considering the inevitability of it all. This is the future of marketing. Sell lots and lots of cheap things. This is the way producers will continue to harvest money even after the middle-class has sunken to the lower rungs of jobless despair. When many of these teenagers get older and hungry it will be impossible to get $20 out of them, but you just may be able to suck out 99 cents, not a bad deal for an industry already switching out it’s tackle for smaller fish in much, larger quantities.

Apple-Pepsi Deal

Wired News on the P2P Case