Correction: Christian X Never Wore Yellow Star

· Miscellany

Pushing rectangles takes exception with my “to the ramparts” melodrama about the plight of Davezilla:

I am not a lawyer… but I don’t know that any of these chuckleheads are, either. The way trademark protection works, you need to actively police the usage of your marks. This is in contrast to copyright where protection extends from the moment of creation without any particular action on the part of the creator. You (or your legal representative) HAS to send out these letters and has to be able to prove that the letters are sent to ever get any protection for the mark in the future. However, the action taken beyond the letter is permitted to be proportional to the encroachment on the mark.

The letter is not necessarily an indication that there will ever be any further action or even communication with “Davezilla”. Most likely the letter is not about Davezilla at all, but about filing away a stack of papers to haul out for some future eventuality. That’s the way trademarks work.

I mostly agree with this. When Wired News wrote about my problems with Mattel and the Barbie trademark, Steve Silberman quoted me to that effect.

“I do understand why a publicly owned corporation has to defend its copyrights,” Crumlish observes. “What’s being silenced is any reflection, any meta-conversation about Barbie.”

Notwithstanding my conflation of trademarks and copyright (I learned a lot defending myself), the fact remains that a number of noncommercial, parodic or artistic websites making fair use of the Barbie trademarks dissolved themselves (or had their ISPs crumble beneath them) rather than face Mattel’s deep pockets.
Rectangles has it right, though. There was never a followup to the first cease-and-desist letter I received, no response to my reply. (In the meantime, though I lost my academic host and found refuge on the servers of an S.F. cybercommune.) The stack of paper image nails it.
He also corrects my glib misstatement, passing on of an urban legend, about Danish King Christian X (I swear I’m not making this up):

To answer the question in the first quote: you’re thinking of “Danes” but the answer is neither, since the event never actually took place.

A quick trip to the Goog turned up numerous debunks. This one is typical:

On page 14 of Queen in Denmark by Anne Wolden-R