A Noun? A Verb? TiVo Says It’s Neither

TiVo has started defending their trademark more aggressively.

NYTimes, requires registration – or just use http://www.bugmenot.com/

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  • buran

    This reminds me of the idiotic efforts by Hormel to change how people write about spam. They seem to think that there’s some magic switch they can flip that will suddenly rearrange peoples’ thought patterns so that “spam” doesn’t mean “junk email I didn’t ask for and can’t get rid of”. Languages change based on how people actually use them, not how some random small organizations THINK we should use them. In cases like these, people just blink and say “Well, whatever… you’re spending all that money to do WHAT? Spend it on something actually worth it!” (Like doing something to stop spammers from causing us all headaches.)

    I really don’t think somebody being all high and mighty and telling thousands, even millions, of people that they’re using their own vernacular incorrectly is going to do much good. People are going to go on speaking however they like, learned from others around them, from reading, and so on. If you want to change speech patterns, you have to find a way to inject a new usage into the language that flows in naturally and isn’t the result of some high-handed proclamation that no one is going to ever read.

    Kinda like how the Quebecois and French language police are trying to stop French from stealing English idioms (like “le blue-jeans”) and, I’m sure, not getting anywhere.

  • squid_ink

    it’s a cute attempt to get more publicity.

    I had no idea my TIVO is cheating on me with Miranda from “Sex in the City”! Wow am I ticked….!

    but that’s ok, I forgive you my little Tivo… ;)

  • gregtrotter

    Actually, it’s an attempt to protect their trademark and keep it from becoming generic. If a company doesn’t at least make an effort to protect the trademark, it can fall into generic usage, like “linoleum.”

    There’s nothing unusual about this, it happens every time that a single product becomes synonymous for all products of that type. All in all, it’s a pretty good problem to have.

    Unless, of course, you originally held the trademarks on “linoleum”, “escalator”, “yo-yo”, or “zipper.” Then it’s pretty crummy to see dozens of companies selling things with your name, and you not getting a dime for it.

  • revgeorge

    There’s nothing unusual about it, but there’s no reason they need to protect their trademark from Sex in the City. Trademark law is to prevent competitive commercial entities from using the name in a confusing manner. I’ve heard of cable installers telling people they were getting TiVo when they were actually getting cable company DVRs, and that is a clear cut case of trademark infringement. However, they can’t tell me not to tell people to TiVo something.

    Cory Doctorow’s essay on Trademarks is a really good overview on the subject.

  • gregtrotter

    Yes, but common usage of a trademarked name can cause something to become generic. See The International Trademark Association for more information.

    They aren’t telling you not to tell people to “TiVo” something, they are telling the media not to use the term in that way.

  • monkey42

    I agree. Common usage of TiVo could be a very bad thing. I sometimes hear people calling their cable-company-provider pvr/dvr a TiVo. If they do that and complain about how much it sucks or other people see that it sucks, that hurts the TiVo name.

    People equating TiVo with any ‘ole pvr/dvr is bad.