Ars Technica received a nastygram from IMAX about its use of the term IMAX in a story they published. Ars rightly told IMAX to pound sand, and IMAX apologized.
The tempest has been retired from this particular teapot, but this sort of thing happens all the time. A company—whether it’s high on a speedball of ego and trademark forms, or just so convinced of how good its PR smells that it thinks it can bully the media into following its PR guidelines—sends a note to editorial people demanding that their name be stricken or IdioSyncRatically capitalized or affixed with a registered-trademark symbol® or the slightly more humble trademark symbol™.
As Aurich Lawson wrote at Ars:
IMAX’s letter is part of a disturbing trend in which some companies believe that owning a trademark actually allows them to control any speech about their product. Too many examples abound already of trademark owners that believe they’re entitled to control how movies and TV shows portray their brand. IMAX has taken that to the next level here, believing it is entitled to literally silence someone speaking to a journalist because the name of a corporation happened to slip out of his mouth.
Journalists don’t care about your brand guidelines and your trademark protection and whether or not competitors are referring to your brand without your permission. But if you’re in this business long enough, every so often you’ll receive a reminder that some people think the media is just an adjunct to the PR department.
When you can read between the lines and see that the request is being made by an embarrassed PR person at the furious behest of a senior corporate executive… those are the best. Though I admit I always felt bad for the PR person, once I realized that they knew their request was ridiculous, that we were going to refuse it, and that they were going to have to go back to that red-faced Senior VP or C-Level executive and report that fact.