This Just In…

Rigney Graphics Lunch Meat™ Is Served!

Yes, folks. A beloved brand name is dead… and with a crack of lightning a new one is born. Rigney Graphics brand [term-for-annoying-unsolicited-e-mail] is changing its name. Say hello to “Rigney Graphics Lunch Meat™!”

You may be asking “Why?” Well, because of our purely irresistible urge to not just push, but shred, the envelope of PR and marketing. Because of our constant drive to blunt the very cutting edge itself with our design tracks. And because of some trademark laws and a cease and desist letter from Hormel Foods Corporation®, makers and trademark holders of SPAM® Luncheon Meat.

But what will this mean? Not much really. The past newsletters in our website archive have been modified to make use of the new name in all copy and artwork. Simply the same goodness in a different wrapper—Rigney Graphics Lunch Meat™. Dig in!

Visit or read about the Spam Museum in Austin—Minnesota, that is.

Hormel Foods, SPAM, SPAMTASTIC and SPAMBURGER are either trademarks or registered trademarks of Hormel Foods Corporation.

Gee Whillickers!

Brand Martyrdom

Common words like “computer,” “fast” or “silver” cannot be trademarked by themselves. Basically, brand names need to be made-up words, word combinations or compound words used as adjectives which modify a common word, as in Pinesol® Cleaner or Starbucks® Coffee. That’s why you used to see _____® brand _____ so often.

There is such a thing as too well branded, when you hit the very top of the food chain. You see, when someone asks for a “xerox” of something, they’re not necessarily asking for a copy produced by a Xerox® product. Xerox Corporation can’t be too happy about that. Likewise, Coke and Pepsi have both had to fight against their brands being “generified” to mean any cola beverage.

Once upon a time, the Scott Paper Company produced a commercial designed to raise awareness of Scottie’s tissues by informing the public that the rival Kleenex brand was not the only disposable tissue on the market. During the shoot, the director paused to instruct the ad’s lead actor: “Now, sweetheart, when I hold up my hand, blow your nose with the Kleenex.” Ouch!


Origin of the Net Abuse Term “Spam”

Unfortunately for Hormel Foods®, maker of the canned “Shoulder Pork and hAM” or “SPiced hAM” luncheon meat, the term “spam” has come to mean internet abuse, particularly mass junk e-mail and junk postings.

In the beginning, there were a few types of abuse the term came to mean: flooding a computer with too much data in order to crash it; “spamming the database” by creating a large number of program-generated files; flooding chat sessions with program-generated text or inserting a file instead of inputting by hand.

Well, how did the name of this food product get usurped? Why “spam?” Some of you may remember a comedy skit done by Monty Python. The skit is about a restaurant that serves everything on its menu with Spam—lots of it! At certain points, a group of Vikings in the background break out into song: “Spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, lovely spam! Wonderful spam!” Thus, you can see *why* the name became a term that now means some unwanted thing annoyingly repeated. But how, when and where?

Some say the the term came from an early “chat” system, circa early ’80s, before the web even existed. When the ability to dump whole files into the chat system was developed, users would flood the chat session with the words to the Monty Python Spam Song to annoy others.

In 1994 it happened. That’s when people began broadly referring to spam as spam. Though techies were discussing the noun and verb form of the word as early as 1990, it wasn’t until a few years later that the world really bit into “spam.”

Early Noteworthy Dates

1971: Pre-net spam sent on MIT’s CTSS MAIL (Compatible Time Sharing System) Subject: THERE IS NO WAY TO PEACE. PEACE IS THE WAY.

1978: The first internet e-mail spam, sent by DEC Subject: ADRIAN@SRI-KL (This was an invitation to a new products presentation)

1988: Mass “charity” scam to newsgroups by a student whose college fund was running out. Subject: HELP ME!

1993: Possibly first reference to a spam as “spam,” made by an anti-spam programmer. Developer of ARMM, a program designed to remove spam postings, test ran it and, due to a bug, it wound up spamming messages itself. Subject: ARMM: ARMM: ARMM: ARMM: ARMM: ARMM: ARMM: Supersedes or Also-Control

1994: The first major USENET “spamming,” posted to every group. Subject: Global Alert for All: Jesus is Coming Soon.

Gee Whillickers!

Inspiration or Thievery

A designer creates from a mental library of aesthetic experiences and perceptions; from beautiful to ugly and everything in between. But, then there is also the consideration of theft and plagiarism.

But, as with everything in a universe with no absolutes, there is a graduated scale of original creation and duplication of another creation with plenty of gray areas in between. Copyright protection laws have wrestled with quantifying this consideration. A difficult, if not impossible, task: applying an objective system of evaluation (law) to something purely subjective (art). As you might imagine, this has spawned some strange absurdities. As in music, where an artist can legally use a certain number of notes from another artist’s song before he gets into trouble. In the end, even that just boils down to judgments and loose guidelines for making them.

Here’s an example that shows some obvious use of another creation and possibly the manipulation of another creative source.

1937, Combustion Engineering Co. Inc.

1984, Dell™ Computers, Inc.

Destructo® Skateboards

So—is it art or theft?