Thursday, March 04, 2010

Nerd Word of the Week: Moron in a hurry

A question mark with the copyright symbol.Image via Wikipedia
Moron in a hurry (n.) - Legal concept for the dumbest possible person in any given situation. The proverbial "moron in a hurry" is used as a test for certain legal assumptions, especially in the case of trademark and copyright law. If a moron in a hurry could not tell the difference between two very similar logos or musical pieces, then for legal purposes the items might be considered identical. Thus, one of those logos or songs might be infringing on the other's trademark or copyright.

I bring it up because: There seems to be an epidemic of intellectual property lawsuits these days that are using the moron in a hurry concept as a legal bludgeon, with almost Streisand Effect-level stupidity. Monster energy drink versus Vermonster beer, for example, or Help A Reporter Out vs. PR Manna. Lake Mary High School vs. the Chrysler corporation -- Chrysler definitely has a case here, but is it worth making if a victory just renders the Dodge brand a jerk in the eyes of the public? In the old days, the hypothetical "reasonable person" was used to test such cases, but given our cultural and societal trajectory of late, the moron in a hurry may seem a more apt descriptor of the average consumer. For my money, the morons in a hurry are usually the plaintiffs in these ridiculous lawsuits.