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March 16, 2009

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Not sure I like Syfy, and not sure I would recognize it on my TiVO channel list, either. (Although SciFi is one of the few channel #s that I have memorized.)

BTW - Another SCIFI -- at SCI-Arc, The Southern California Institute of Architecture. It's "an intensive research-based, post-professional degree program and think-tank...." http://is.gd/nAy8

The name "science fiction" was coined in I believe 1930 by Hugo Gernsback, who had founded the first magazine in the genre. It was his second attempt, "scientifiction" having failed to cut it.

This comment has been the geekiest thing I've said or written all month.

Hope you saw this tweet from @drmomentum: SciFi channel is changing name to SyFy for branding. Other new channels: Hystori, DzKoveri, Empty Vee, Focks Nuz, and "See B.S."

@Karen: I missed @drmomentum's tweet; thanks for sharing! See B.S. indeed.

NO.

Lucent is an OK brand name in my book, but Agilent evokes agitation and Accenture is just goofy. I don't think Landor Associates is instilling confidence in their naming abilities.

@Amy: From what I remember, Agilent was supposed to evoke agility. And I think Tate Linden at Thingnamer said it best: "Where Landor fell down was not with the name but with the talking points for the executives. A strong branding firm doesn't let the executives make fools of themselves with nonsensical justification for the rebranding. ... No capably led organization would ever change its name from the correct spelling to a made-up homophone of the same word because the original word 'is limiting.' That's crazy talk." http://is.gd/nCHE

Boy, I'll watch their four trademark applications (filed on the 12th) vigilantly - they pussyfooted around the descriptions and didn't include any reference to science fiction, which was no doubt deliberate. The question from the PTO will be whether the term has any meaning in the trade - and what their response is will be telling. Let's see if the PTO is fooled or not.

Honestly, it's always a marketer who says "we can own this" - not a trademark lawyer. Exhibit A weighing against registrability: “If I were texting, this is how I would spell it.”

@Jessica: I was hoping you'd weigh in on this! I've always warned my clients that trademark observes the oral tradition: you can't change the Cs to Ks and register Koka-Kola. Just one question: wasn't the original "Sci Fi Channel" already a descriptive mark?

Hmm, I think that junior exec also listens to the Bay Area's own flavor of crunk music, hyphy:

http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=hyphy

You know, speaking of sci-fi, William Shatner, and Esperanto, you've probably heard about the all-Esperanto movie Shatner made, right?

http://www.amazon.com/Incubus-William-Shatner/dp/B000059OLR

Forry Ackerman was one of my boyhood idols. I was in the key demographic for Famous Monsters of Filmland, which, now that I think of it, was full-to-burstin' with constant wordplay and punning. Every headline, every caption, practically every sentence of the magazine included some kind of linguistic joke or gymnastic.

@Mark: Did somebody say "Shatner in Esperanto"? http://is.gd/nLsP

Yep, Sci Fi Channel was descriptive - and that's why changing the spelling doesn't change the underlying meaning, pronunciation or descriptiveness.

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