wxWindows changes name

Asun Friere afriere at yahoo.co.uk
Thu Feb 26 01:53:27 CET 2004

Piet van Oostrum <piet at cs.uu.nl> wrote in message news:<wzwu6b4b0k.fsf at ordesa.cs.uu.nl>...
> >>>>> Ken Godee <ken at perfect-image.com> (KG) wrote:

> The point is that "Windows" isn't a trademark, or at least shouldn't be
> because it's too generic. "MS Windows" or "Microsoft Windows", OK.
> The same was the case with DOS: many people called MS-DOS just "DOS",
> although there were other DOSses around.
> I think they shouldn't be allowed to hijack the name "Windows". And neither
> "Word" or "Office" for that matter.

I think you misuderstand the concept of 'genericity' as it applies to
trademark law (though I should stress I don't have my law degree from
a US institution, so there might be some differences there).  Perhaps
I'm misreading you, but you seem to imply that because a word is in
common use it cannot function as a trademark.  This is not so.

Generally a trademark must be (in the terminology of my jurisdicition)
'sufficiently adapted to distinguish' the product from other products
in its class.  The test is whether other vendors of that product would
want to use that term in regard to that product.  Eg if you are
selling fish the term 'ocean' wouldn't be sufficiently adapted to
distinguish, but the term 'door' might be (ie you shouldn't be able to
trademark 'Ocean Fish(tm),'  but 'Door Fish(tm)' should be fine.)
Similarly you /shouldn't/ be able to trademark 'Digital Computers(tm)'
(Aha!), but 'Gateway Computers(tm)' would seem to be OK.  It is
arguable that 'Windows' is sufficiently adapted to distinguish one
operating system from another, certainly it is far better than 'Disk
Operating System,' sans the 'MS-.'

Additionally you have to consider the special protection afforded to
'well known brands' under the IP annexes to the WTO treaty, which will
work very nicely in M$'s favour.

A trademark becomes 'generic' on the other hand, when a trademark
enters into the language to such an extent that it cannot function as
a trademark any longer. Arguable the word 'Hoover' (verb and noun),
for vacuum cleaner, or vacuuming, in the UK, has become generic. 
Meaning that theoretically (I wouldn't try it), any manufacturery
could produce a 'hoover.'  The fear of genericity explains why Xerox
launched a big campaign to introduce the word 'photocopying' (instead
of 'xeroxing'), and indeed this gem from Adobe:

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