"Last night I watched the news from Washington, the capitol
The Russians escaped while we weren't watching them, like Russians will
Now we've got all this room, we've even got the moon
And I hear the U.S.S.R. will be open soon
As vacation land for lawyers in love"
"Lawyers In Love", by Jackson Browne
It does seem lately that our legal system has gotten strangely involved in our industry, but I can't decide whether so far the contribution is positive or negative. Consider the following news items:
You see, someone else is using the name Web Informant for a print publication, and I am not a happy camper about it. Of course, they began using the name about a year after I did. We have both filed claims to trademark the name: on my application is the date I began using the name (September 1995). On their application is a date in 1990 (which is curious because the web to my knowledge didn't even exist in 1990). Generally, the trademark office looks for the date of first use and rules accordingly.
I don't want to get into all the legal nuances here. The other guys have a whole bunch of other "Informant" publications, and claim they own the entire series of marks, and that the 1990 date is the date when they began using the overall "informant" name. So, lawyers in love.
I don't mean to suggest that all forms of electronic holiday cheer are bummers. For example, someone at First Virtual Holdings sent me a pre-paid card, which could be viewed just by clicking on the URL. You can buy your own greetings at their site, too.
Others sent me URLs to view pictures on their web site, which is equally nice. And if you haven't checked out GreetSt, do check it out and set up your entire 1997 reminders for birthdays, anniversaries, and the like. They'll send you friendly email when the time approaches, and generate attractive cards that will be mailed to your loved ones.
No, the humbug is for those people that send things like 1.5 megabyte email attachments or executable files that play various ditties. Neither are appreciated for download time or potential virus threats. (Indeed, I don't particularly like getting Word documents via email anymore but that is the subject of another column.)
Have a happy and safe holidays, and thanks for all your support, words of wisdom, wonderful and wild wit, and just plain attention over the past year.
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entire contents copyright 1996 by David Strom, Inc.