Microscopic shenanigans threaten big biz.
"Well, we had to do something," said Helmut ('Bad the Impaler') Kreuznach, Chief Legal Counsel for German outdoor equipment maker Deuter. "Just because some random isotope exists is no reason it should be allowed to whiz around and infringe on our brand identity."
You might think that a constituent of nature that has existed for at least 13.6 billion years might be immune from the legal hassles of copyright and trademark law, but apparently this is not so.
Deuterium, or heavy hydrogen, is one of two stable isotopes of hydrogen. It has been around since the very beginning, long before tailless apes decided to go backpacking, but now it is at the center of a huge dispute recently brought before the World Trade Organization (WTO).
At issue is whether deuterium the isotope should be allowed to continue existing, and if so, what it should be called.
"This is very important to us as an international brand," asserts Mr. Kreuznach, stroking his beard. "We are extremely concerned that if we allow just any sketchy, possibly counterfeit version of hydrogen to pop up here, there, and anywhere under a name that is suspiciously similar to our brand, consumers might become confused."
"For example," he continued, "what proof do we have that so-called deuterium is even a legitimate isotope, let alone an element? There is no paper trail. It is not mentioned anywhere in existing trade agreements. We have only the word of a few unreliable scientists that this substance even exists, except to threaten our business."
A court review is scheduled for late October under guidelines set out in the WTO's Understanding on Rules and Procedures Governing the Settlement of Disputes, adopted in 1994.
Deuterium could not immediately be reached for comment, though its attorney did play a recording of a very soft hissing sound, said to be coming from deep space.
There is some precedent for cases like this.
For example, The North Face is presently suing not only The Butt Face for brand dilution, but also butter itself. And late last year Big Agnes, a maker of tents, sleeping bags, and related gear sued Big Agnes Johnsson Moving and Storage Co. of Whistle Bluff, TN "just in case".
There are also rumors afoot that Osprey Packs, Inc. may be after not only ospreys, but also anything that could possibly be referred to as a fish hawk, sea hawk, or fish eagle, or any animal ever seen around fish, living or dead.
And if your parents call you Jan, and you like sports even a little, then you may be in deep trouble, legal-wise.
Or, if your name is Gregory, then look out. You could be next, bud.
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