Mary Hodder, having recently had an unfortunate incident with her NetNewsWire (a product I highly recommend, but does apparently have limits), got a comment that touched upon a peculiar perception being expounded upon by the bloggers of Backup Brain, to wit — the claim that the use of the phrase “backup brain,” not to mention the notion that lies behind it, belongs to them - see “Backup Brain” is us.
I’m starting to see it more and more, and while I’m not a lawyer, my understanding is that we need to nip this in the bud. If you read our What is Backup Brain? page, you’ll see that we claim “Backup Brain” as a trademark, and have for quite some time.
If you want to use the phrase “backup brain,” and in particular to use it regarding weblogs, we’d greatly appreciate it if you’d reference or link to this site in some way. For instance, this is the right way to do it. OTOH, this is not.
Thank you for your attention to this matter.
Of course, there is no such trademark registration at the USPTO and even if there were, it would be completely irrelevant to this noxious claim.
Why am I giving these people any further exposure of their claim? Because this sort of thing exposes the way that the notion of “intellectual property” has completely debased the vital policy discussions that do need to be held regarding the appropriate role of legal instruments like copyright, patents and trademarks in promoting innovation.
Increasingly, we see the idea that the realm of “intellectual property” afford the opportunity for a kind of “land rush” — an opportunity to stake a claim upon a particular bit of turf, and then to extract rents from anyone who happens to wander across.
Of course, this may also just be the consequence of the copyright industries efforts to “educate” people about intellectual property, with suggestions that students put the © symbol on their homework, rather than a “land grab” on the part of the Backup Brain bloggers — but it’s still a sad demonstration of just how peculiarly the ideas of intellectual property have been warped.
(Note, by the way, that there are lots of trademarks that employ the phrase “intellectual property,” yet I am perfectly within my rights as a user of the english language to discuss the notion, build upon its concepts and deconstruct its failures without the permission of anybody!)