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November 12, 2003


Dictionary to Keep "McJob" - The 11th edition of Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary added the word "McJob." This upsets McDonald's both philosophically and also because they have some sort of program which is actually called McJOBS(tm). (An article at The Register goes into the interesting history of the trademarking of the term. ["Merriam-Webster explains disappearing McJob" - 11/11, Andrew Orlowski]):

McDonald's first registered the term on May 16 1984, as a name and image for "training handicapped persons as restaurant employees". But the trademarked lapsed in February 1992, and was declared 'Dead' by the United States Patent Office. Following the publication of Douglas Coupland's smash Generation X in paperback edition in October 1992 (the book first appeared in 1991), which popularized the term, McDonald's restored the trademark.

The term also appears in the American Heritage Dictionary, Webster's Dictionary, and dictionary of dictionaries, the Oxford English Dictionary. It's safe to say that the term has entered everyday language, enough that dictionary editors have taken note. And while McDonald's will pursue its trademark rights, it can't stop how people talk.

Cory Doctorow has also posted on this at BoingBoing, and he asserts that the necessity for trademark owners to "to sue everyone who utters your trademark or risk losing it" is a legal "fairy tale." He also links to his August article about trademarks at OpenP2P. Thoughts?

Yours, &c., LC | 12:40 AM | Legal , Librariana , Writing & Language | TrackBack (0)

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