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The dangers of trademarks

With all the recent attention on copyrights, it’s worth checking out this article by Nina Paley: it details how Pyrex, once a brand name for a particularly strong, heat-resistant type of glass, is now being put on all sorts of glass.

So people who see the Pyrex brand and expect the glass to stand up to some punishment are finding out that it doesn’t. Very much like if you put the Tylenol brand on rat poison. Well, sort of like that.

The article points out that the entire reason for protecting brands is that consumers know what they’re getting, and asks, reasonably, what the response would be if some other company put out ordinary glass and called it Pyrex. (Answer: the response would be swift and merciless, involving all of the coercive power of the state.)

But when the owner of the trademark does it, there’s nothing we can do.

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