Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Company, organizations, people, and domain names can "mashup" all too easily


The world is such a small place (compared to Jupiter, anyway), that it’s getting harder and harder for companies, organizations, movie and book titles, and domain names to stay out of each other’s way.

Perhaps this is just part of the inevitable “mashup” talked about in Joshua Cooper Ramo’s new book “The Age of the Unthinkable” (Little Brown, 2009), but I tried to find out a little about “Kissinger Associates.” A site called “Biblio Tec Play” has a long discussion of the cabal (they include Geithner and support the idea that there are more Democrats in high finance on Wall Street than Republicans), link here.

Wikipedia gives some discussion of the past period as Kissinger McClarty, and Biblio gives a domain name reflecting that (kmaglobal.com) that gives a 403 Forbidden error – very strange. The descendants of Frost / Nixon and Henry Kissinger really don’t want to be too transparent. But “Domain Tools” says they own about 24 other domains.

And then there is another company, in Pennsylvania, called Kissinger Associates, that appears to be totally separate. It’s domain is this and appears to be a more “conventional” consulting firm for corporations. It claims to have trademarked several phrases, which I could not confirm at uspto.gov – although, as a matter of law, it’s possible to create a trademark right without registering it, although registration is generally necessary to make it stand up in court. (There is a nice PDF from West Virginia University by William W. Aylor, Trademark Attorney, that explains the basics, here.

Of course, this sort of situation will occur when people start their own businesses using their own names, as names tend to appear with a great deal of multiplicity in our society.

Even non-profits run into this. There is an “Environmental Leadership Program” site which has nothing to do with the paid “Environmental Leadership” section in The Washington Post today (April 15).

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