Trademark Trolls Should Mind Their Pwn Business
Seriously. The word Pwnage. A word that pulls 2 million results on Google, and the same one that we happen to make heavy use of in Forumwarz. (In the introduction for our game, we come up with our own mythology of the term, calling it the recently discovered fifth force of physics: “A force so strong that, when harnessed properly, can destroy a web forum from the inside out.”)
We’re far from the first people to make active use of this non-word. Pure Pwnage makes a hilarious mockumentary series on the concept. Urban Dictionary offers 37 definitions of the term (and surprisingly, only one definition of “inessential”). The Wikipedia page on Pwn lists many other occurrences around the web.
What makes a company decide that they will simply take a word or concept that has been active in the public for years and then trademark it as their own? (Or should I say, “pwn”?) Especially when they clearly have nothing to do with its origin! Benchmarking…headshots. Benchmarking…headshots. Not seeing the correlation, folks.
Look at the “domain” they listed for its use:
Computer game software for communication devices; computer game software and computer game programs enabling users to play games with mobile phones and personal digital assistants; computer software and programs enabling users to communication devices to simultaneously access databases and global computer networks; software enabling transfer of data between mobile communication apparatus; computer game software; computer game programs; computer game discs; interactive multimedia computer game program; downloadable ring tones, graphics and music via global computer network and wireless devices; cases for mobile phones; computer application software for mobile phones; multimedia software recorded on CD-ROM featuring fictional characters and computer games; pre-recorded DVD’s, video tapes, laser discs featuring movies about fictional characters, and pre-recorded compact discs featuring music; motion picture films on fictional characters
They might as well have written “every piece of media, real or imagined, under the sun.”
Forumwarz will often poke fun at trademark trolls in our game, tacking on a clearly false (TM) to the end of absurd terms like E-Peen, a quirk that I shamefully stole from Ron Gilbert’s writing. But I can promise you will we’d never actually try to trademark words that the public has been using for ages (in Internet time). After all, we’re standing on the shoulders of giants here. Obese, unhygienic, virginal, basement-dwelling giants, and we could never take credit for their awesome ideas. We try to pay homage to memes, not greedily attempt to ppwn them off as our pwn.
I guess, until now, I considered the word “pwnage” way too ridiculous to trademark. It just goes to show there’s no level some people won’t stoop to.
This is the new economy, I suppose. Just think: Your next typo could make someone else a milyunair!