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By | Christopher Williams 16th June 2006 12:19

Welsh email filterer can use 'spam' in trademark

Hormel grip on pork meat slips

Swansea email filter firm NetBop Technologies has become the first to register a text trademark containing the word "spam".

It has settled an 18-month dispute with US foodstuffer Hormel over the right to use the popular term for unsolicited email in naming its product Bopspam. Hormel lawyers discovered they were not as likely to stop NetBop registering the name as they had thought, when Patent Office officials indicated NetBop were likely to win at a preliminary hearing in February.

The settlement reached by the two firms means NetBop can use "spam" to name its product, as long as it keeps it lowercase and does not emphasise it in any other way.

NetBop MD Andrew Downie said: "We would never have dreamed there would be such an issue with securing a created name which contains a word used in peoples' every day lives."

"This shows that even a business based in Swansea can triumph against a large US Corporation who has previously won objections against many trade marks over the past few years, including those proposed by AOL and Cloudmark."

Hormel has not made any comment. The Minnesota-based company has tried to maintain a tight grip on SPAM®, going after firms that deploy the word in its email context. Their website says: "We do not object to use of this slang term to describe UCE [unsolicited commercial email], although we do object to the use of our product image in association with that term." Hormel recently lost another trademark case which it took to the High Court against Antilles Landscapes Investments' use of the word 'spam' in the logo for Spambuster.®

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