Three Things Your Fairy Godfather Says You Can't Use Because They're Already Copyrighted, Trademarked or Patented
© 2012 by Aurelio Locsin.
I hope you don’t mind that the fairy godfather moniker up in the title because the phrase was just getting too long. And my warning is far more important than my credit because moi doesn’t want any of his little charges to get into trouble. Simply put, you can’t use any of these three things in your writings or videos or websites or anything else for free because some smarties beat you to it. You’ll have to pay beaucoup bucks if you want these babies in your crib.
This de rigueur ditty at the passing of your years was created by sisters Patty and Mildred Hill back in 1893. Patty herded the kiddies as principal of a kindergarten in Louisville, Kentrucky, while Mildred focused on piano-playing and composing. They created the song Good Morning to All so the little darlings could learn something that was easy to sing. The Happy Birthday lyrics to that melody didn’t appear in print until 1912.
Patty, the last member of the writing team, passed away in 1946, so the copyright is going to expire in Europe in 2016 and in the U.S.A. in 2030. Meanwhile, Warner/Chappell Music vigorously defends the song’s use against all comers. They’re not going to come after you for singing the tune at your Aunt Mathilda’s birthday bash. But don’t think about putting it in a video, website or other multimedia. Or you may find yourself on the wrong end of a judge’s gavel.
Here’s a perfectly lovely word that was coined by French economist Jean-Baptiste Say in the early 1800s. But back then you couldn’t copyright or trademark perfectly lovely words so anybody could use the term wherever and whenever they wanted. Enter Chase Revel, founder of Entrepreneur Magazine, a rag that purports to support the small tradesman. In 1979, he successfully got a U.S. trademark for entrepreneur.
Did he invent it? change it? improve it? No, no and no. But that didn’t matter to the person at the Copyright Office who was asleep at the approval atelier. Yes, you can still use entrepreneur in your writings or when talking about self-made soloists who launch successful ventures. Just don’t put it in your website name or a public award like “Entrepreneur of the Year.” Or else one of Revel’s 2,000+ corporate lawyers will land on you like a house on an evil witch. Seems Revel is all for small businesspeople but only when they don’t dip into his coffers.
Breast and Ovarian Cancer Genes
Whether think God or the Devil created the breast and ovarian cancer genes, they evolved from natural processes, we can all agree that human beings didn’t use their magic hands to make them appear. So how come Myriad Genetics and the University of Utah Research Foundation holds patents to these biological baddies? This authority is only granted to something original and manmade.
Neither you nor I will ever be wanting to include these genes in anything we craft or sell at the swap meat. But what about all the doctors, researchers, students and women’s health groups who want to study the things to prevent the disease? By law, they can’t get their mitts on the stuff without the permission of the patent holders. It doesn’t matter if they offer tons of gold. If Myriad or the University of Utah say no, then it’s no touchee.
The ACLU has taken the fracas all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. I’ll be waiting with bated breath for the decision, which I’ll promptly report. Put my little written effort on Follow if you want to receive that herald when it arrives.