Full Article Attached Open XUL Alliance Launches Wiki Wiki

Thursday November 20th, 2003

Gerald Bauer writes in with news that the Open XUL Alliance now has a Wiki. The Open XUL Alliance is a site about XUL and related XML-based declarative user interface languages. A Wiki (sometimes called a Wiki Wiki) is a collection of pages that can be freely contributed to and edited by anybody. Read the full article for more details.

#39 Do you believe what you're saying?

by adipose

Saturday November 22nd, 2003 5:23 PM

You are replying to this message

Basically, you're saying that descriptive acronyms cannot be trademarked. Because what is a descriptive acronym? It's simply a way of abbreviating a logical description of something. By your logic, if something else begins to fit that description, the acronym is free for the taking. In reality, you're also saying that the entire name (whether acronym or not) is for the taking, as long as the name correctly describes the entity. A few examples (please note the sarcasm):

IBM: International Business Machines Any organization which makes business machines internationally can be called IBM, abbreviated or not.

AAA: American Automobile Association Any group which is associated with American Automobiles can use AAA, abbreviated or not.

NRA: National Rifle Assocation Anyone associated with rifles, nationally, can call themselves this, abbreviated or not.

MADD: Mothers Against Drunk Driving Anyone mothers against drunk driving can youse the term MADD, abbreviated or not. It's a generic term, after all, designed to describe mothers, who are against drunk driving. Never mind that there's already a group with this name.

In actuality, it is quite common to compose "generic terms" by putting several real words together, and then trademarking the phrase. Just because the term could easily describe an existing group of people, and/or does, does not make the term "generic" and up for grabs.

The arguments have already been made that while "XUL" could be used to describe many languages, there are many compatible phrases that could describe them as well, without being called "XUL". This alone negates the idea that XUL *must* be available for all XML based UI languages.

I don't pretend to know the legal status of the term XUL, whether it was used before Mozilla coined it, or whether they have full rights to it. But you are arguing that they can't possibly have the right to it, because it's generic. Well, that's just B.S. (a generic term, I believe). "Generic terms" can be trademarked, and are, all the time. If a trademarked phrase happens to describe your product, it's simply too bad--you must find another phrase to name it.

Of course you are free to use the term in prose, such as "I bought an internation business machine...," but what you cannot do is call your company International Business Machines (well, you can, but it's almost certain that IBM would sue you and win). Maybe it shouldn't be this way, but it is. You can't just hijack the term XUL because you say it's generic--it *was* generic until Mozilla started using it in non-generic way, and if they trademarked it, that's the end of the story. Even if they didn't, it's quite possible they could be awarded the TM in the future.

You can blither all you like about how XUL stands for real words (and/or terms composed of real words), but it doesn't make the acronym fair game. That's simply not how the law works in this area.