EU: Hormel loses Spam trademark case
Hormel Foods' bid to stop the word 'spam' from being used to describe unsolicited emails has been rejected by the European Office of Trademarks and Designs.
The producer of the canned pork product Spam had argued that the use of the word to mean emails was diluting its brand name.
Hormel coined the word Spam, an amalgamation of spiced ham, in 1937. Its use to describe junk email is a reference to a sketch in Monty Python's Flying Circus where during dinner a group of Vikings drown out the conversation by chanting "Spam, spam, spam".
The European trademark authority said: "The most evident meaning of the term SPAM for the consumers ... will certainly be unsolicited, usually commercial e-mail, rather than a designation for canned spicy ham."
Hormel said that while it does not object to the cultural reference, it does object to the word being used commercially.
"We do not object to use of this slang term," the company said on its Spam brand website. "It is only when someone attempts to trademark the word "spam" that we object to such use, in order to protect our rights in our famous trademark Spam. We coined this term in 1937 and it has become a famous trademark. Thus, we don't appreciate it when someone else tries to make money on the goodwill that we created in our trademark or product image, or takes away from the unique and distinctive nature of our famous trademark Spam."
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