Thank You, Hormel
The first meaning of spam.
Of course, long before it referred to unsolicited commercial e-mail,
SPAM™ was the name of a spicy, canned ham product. Hormel established
the brand name and started selling the cans in 1937, so it has an understandable
interest in protecting its trademark. Fortunately for Internet users and
anti-spam vendors everywhere, it’s being very reasonable about this protection.
Relying on Federal court decisions that the slang use of such terms as
“star wars” and “mickey mouse” did not pollute the corresponding trademarks,
Hormel is happy to allow the use of spam as a slang term. You can find
its official statement on the SPAM™ Web site (www.spam.com/ci/ci_in.htm):
“We do not object to use of this slang term to describe UCE, although
we do object to the use of the word ‘spam’ as a trademark and to the use
of our product image in association with that term. Also, if the term
is to be used, it should be used in all lower-case letters to distinguish
it from our trademark SPAM, which should be used with all uppercase letters.”
So, thanks, Hormel. You could have made life very difficult, but instead
you’re being a good Internet citizen. Besides, it probably drives lots
of traffic to the corporate Web site.
Mike Gunderloy, MCSE, MCSD, MCDBA, is a former MCP columnist and the author of numerous development books.