Trademark Violations

I wonder if trademarks will not be a thing of the past 100 years from now.  The impetus for this thinking is a new post on TechCrunch outlining the shady naming schemes behind two upcoming Web 2.0 conferences put out by a company called WebGuild.  Not coincidentally, the names of these conferences almost match exactly the names of two other, better established conferences produced by web heavyweights like Tim O’Reilly and Ryan Carson.

In the comments, we also learn of a trademark complaint by a guy from against TechCrunch itself — for using the phrase “Tech President” in a new election-time campaign.

My initial instinct is to say something like “You shouldn’t be able to trademark something generic like ‘Web 2.0’ or ‘Tech President'” — but then I ask myself why not?  Some time ago those terms would have been very non-generic.  Trademarks are there to allow companies to keep their valuable brand awareness (I suppose), and if another company comes in and uses the name for something similar, it’s bad for the company – right?

Two sides of my political philosophy — the libertarian and the anti-corporatist — join forces to conclude that trademarks are bad and should be abolished.  But I can’t seem to go there without feeling something is wrong with that conclusion.  Not sure what to think about this just yet.

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