Sunday, June 22, 2008

Find It In The Yellow Pages

They (whoever “they” is, or are) never trademarked the phrase “Yellow Pages.” You’d think someone would have thought of a matter as important as that. Telephone books printed by the millions, the majority of them published by whoever originally put them out: White pages in front, yellow pages in back. No sense in filing for “White Pages,” but maybe, just maybe, it might have dawned on a highly-paid exec to protect this money-making thing in the back of their book. But, nooooo.

When the G. & C. Merriam brothers bought out Noah Webster’s dictionary company, they called it “Merriam-Webster,” as fine a name as ever graced our bookshelves. But they never did protect “Webster’s Dictionary,” and now we have all sorts of good, not so good, definitely inferior, as well as even trying to look the same imitators, all called “Webster’s Dictionary.”

Styrofoam, Xerox, Scotch tape and other product’s owners carefully, if not jealously, guard their trademarks. Drop the first letter to lowercase and you will receive a polite, if definite, note from the company. It’s a necessity.

I’ve heard of people who keep an eye on old films to see if their copyrights are renewed by the studios. If the owners are not on the ball and the films slip into the “public domain,” these people scoop them up and offer them for sale on tape or disc. It can be a good living for people who stay alert, stay on stop of copyright end dates, and can keep their mouths shut as the date approaches.


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