Editorial: Forget Dilution, What About Oversaturation?

In with last week’s media coverage of the Victoria’s Secret-Victor’s Secret case before the U.S. Supreme Court was this tidbit of information: Victoria’s Secret mails 39,000 catalogs a year to residents in Elizabethtown, KY (population: 22,000). That’s 1.77 catalogs for every man, woman and child who lives there. Don’t worry about your trademark being diluted because of some small-town adult novelty store. Worry about oversaturating your market with catalogs. Good grief. There can’t be that many people needing Miracle Bras and pom-pom thongs.

The court is debating whether the Federal Trademark Dilution Act gives undue protection to holders of a famous trademark. Victoria’s Secret argued that using a sound-alike name diluted the distinctive quality of its more famous trademark and, thus, its selling power. It also tarnished the company’s name by linking it to the sale of adult sex toys. Victor’s Secret (now Cathy’s Little Secret) said there’s clearly no confusing the two and no economic harm had been done.

The justices and lawyers filled their time discussing analogies involving Apple Computers and The Beatles’ Apple Records, Delta Air Lines and Delta faucets — anything to avoid talk of lacy underwear — though Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg questioned the role of sex toys in the case. Whatever was discussed, the court should settle once and for all just what it takes to prove trademark dilution.

Levey: No Comment on ‘Junk Mail’

I recently wrote about Washington Post columnist Bob Levey’s crusade against junk mail: what he called an “incredible four-inch high stack that arrives in the mail each day.” I gave reasons as to why not all of his mail may be junk, and a reader asked that we contact him for a reply. Well, after two queries, Levey responded with a very-to-the-point note: “Thanks for the look. No comment.” Two days later, however, I got a mouthful from an anonymous reader about the same editorial: “Please send me your home address and telephone number, so that I can send you some junk mail. Here’s betting that you don’t respond, you piece of garbage. And with respect to worthy charities sending junk mail: I guess the ends justifies the means, you amoral moron.” Amoral moron? Ow. Those are fighting words, you nameless swine. Meet me in back after school and we’ll settle this.

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