The Instigator
larztheloser
Pro (for)
Winning
5 Points
The Contender
Spark221
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points

That trademarks should be abolished

Do you like this debate?NoYes+0
Add this debate to Google Add this debate to Delicious Add this debate to FaceBook Add this debate to Digg  
Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 2 votes the winner is...
larztheloser
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 2/19/2013 Category: Society
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,346 times Debate No: 30385
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (0)
Votes (2)

 

larztheloser

Pro

Hey everyone.

In this debate, I'm going to be proposing the motion that trademarks should be abolished. My opponent, naturally, will negate this topic. We each have 72 hours to argue our points, and 8000 characters to do so in each round. There are four rounds, although the first is just for acceptance, rules, etc.

As usual, please only vote if you're either being completely fair or voting for me. I would very much appreciate (and I think my opponent would too) constructive comments for improving my case.

A few basic rules, too, just in case my opponent hasn't done that many debates before. No sources in the comments. All arguments that each side intends to make in the debate must be made in the debate rounds, not comments or sources. I have the BOP (as is obvious).

One last thing - definitions. A trademark is a distinctive "sign" of any kind that distinguishes a brand from its competitors (http://www.iponz.govt.nz...). Legally trademarks are protected by international law via the Madrid Protocol of 1891 (http://en.wikipedia.org...). The debate will focus solely on trademarks, not other kinds of intellectual property, such as patents (which protect processes) or copyrights (which protect creative works). Examples of trademarks are the M of McDonalds or the shade of purple used by Cadbury chocolate.

So - good luck to my opponent, and I look forward to an exciting debate.
Spark221

Con

There are many reasons for trademarks and very few I can think of for them to be abolished.

Trademarks prevent people from stealing from you. A lot of thought and hard work are put into inventing a product or service. It is only fair that the inventor can have their own unique logo representing their own work

In addition to that, despite what people think, if something is worth evoking a trademark, it took a lot to bring it into existence. For those who did help bring it into existence, their little emblem will always be a representation of their success and accomplishment and a source of personal pride.

Today's world is very commercial, but that is neither here nor there in regards to this debate. The point is industrialists, businesses, public etc. are all very centered around brands, marketing and identification. Trademarks are all a part of that. It is an important part of trade and industry.
What's more it has become integral part of the lives in ordinary people. Not a huge parts but definitely have become intertwined with today's society.
Despite arguments to the contrary that is O.K. Trademarks have no effect on how products are produced or (to a certain extent) marketed, meaning the trademark in itself is not the problem. Trademarks are designs intended to identify what is being advertised and that is good, there is absolutely no reason for trademarks to be abolished.
Debate Round No. 1
larztheloser

Pro

I thank my opponent for accepting this debate, and welcome them to this site. The previous round was supposed to be just for acceptance; however, my opponent's eagerness is definitely a good sign.

Trademarks were created to prevent confusion and deception. In fact, as I will go on to show, the trademark system has created these very harms, duping customers by allowing companies to build product sales out of brands, not brands out of product sales as was the intention. It allows for companies to receive far more income than the value that they actually create, to the detriment of others. It's a failed system. It cannot be salvaged. We should scrap it.

Consumers win

Because brands are relatively easy to market, consumers more readily identify with them. That means that when the need arises, they're more likely to think of viagra than sildenafil citrate, for example, or coca-cola than soft drink. This puts larztheloser's awesome cola factory at a disadvantage (again, just as an example - I don't have a viagra factory either for that matter). It doesn't matter how superior or cheaper larztheloser's awesome colas are, the branding of coca-cola alone is sufficient to draw people in. The harm here is that unlike copyrights or patents, trademarks add absolutely no value to products or services whatsoever. They exist to monopolise brand elements, retaining consumers who without a brand heuristic would have moved on to superior heuristics long ago, like lowest price or most convenient bottle size. This debate is a question of who matters more - the marginal profits of megacorporations with trademarks that are probably worth genericising anyway, or end consumers.

The effect of my proposal is that rather than innovate on branding, companies will have to innovate on features or value in order to remain profitable. Naturally first mover advantage will still exist because it helps companies stay ahead on features, but ultimately, why should Toho continue to get money suing people over their Godzilla property if not for the fact that they actually produce Godzilla films? Obviously I'm not saying to people that they can copy the film and pass it off as their own (Godzilla's character design being copyright protected, among other issues with that), but if people want to create their own versions of the Godzilla film with their own vaguely-reptilian clay models, then that only means we consumers can see Tokyo be destroyed in even more ways. That's good, because ultimately the quality and value of Godzilla comes from the film, not the IP rights, and consumers will be happy to consume that (which is why demand exists for Godzilla). If anything, removing trademarks would encourage companies like Toho to improve their product in order to maintain a leading profitable position, as opposed to merely their marketing or the strength of their legal team. That's good because it means we get a better deal (as in, a deal that's actually better, not just a brand that tricks us into thinking they're better).

Trademark law is one of the biggest things stifling development of our standard of living in the modern business world today.

It makes business sense

If a brand is weak, then there's no point in trademarking it, because nobody would want to imitate a poor brand when there are good brands to imitate. However if the brand is strong, and you imitate it, the creator of the brand might not get all the profits from their brand (although hey, they wouldn't anyway - what are taxes for?) but they do get a stronger brand identity and more brand recognition simply because they're out there more. It's essentially free advertising for the brand. If Samsung wants to create their own "iPod" using their own processes, then that's good for Apple because it increases the popularity of the iPod brand. That ensures that their iPod will keep selling, because their competitors are doing the work to keep the idea popular. While competitors may steal market share, they also expand the market. Stealing market share still happens under the alternative with trademarks, the only difference being that they're stealing by taking away from your brand rather than "stealing" by adding to it.

Similar restrictions apply not only to competitors but also complementary industries. While some countries classify this as nomitive use and therefore fair, the trademark still needs to be defended to avoid being genericised. That's why, for example, Wikipedia ran into huge trouble when they tried to make an article about Lava Lamps, a trademarked name. If Sony wants to make iPod compatible headphones, then allowing them to put the Apple logo on the side of the packet without begging Apple to let them seems fair, and actually helps Apple's brand develop and stimulates demand for those products. One industry that's interesting to look at here is the trading cards industry. Fake trading cards are easy to produce and frequently passed off as the real deal (infringing both copyright and trademark laws). However, that has not made any trademarks or trading cards less popular - indeed, it has made them more ubiquitous, stimulating interest and increasing their popularity.

The only reason why businesses aren't jumping on the "don't use trademarks" bandwagon right now is that trademarks are artificially profitable, just as industry monopolies are generally naturally profitable. However, if that monopoly can be used to trick consumers into buying their products, then their competitors with their own original brands can use the same trick, negating any real value that trademarks offer. Moreover, the ready identification that provides the advantage to business also creates the problem of trademarks - genericisation (which pretty much causes the instant loss of a trademark). As in "wow, that's some mighty fine Coke you've got there" when they're actually referring to one of larztheloser's awesome colas. Trademarks are thus never actually a viable long-term business strategy, because the instant they become popular they are lost, and before they become popular they're not worth protecting.

Some Rebuttals

My opponent made only a short and superficial argument, so I'll respond to some of her claims now very briefly. While I agree inventors deserve recognition, this is not the case with trademarks. Ransom E. Olds invented one of the first great American cars - the Oldsmobile - while working for General Motors. He left GM to start his own company, REO, but GM refused to give him the trademark and kept it going for a century. Olds tried for 30 years, but the strength of the Oldsmobile brand was too strong, and though he made superior cars he could never outcompete GM. He died without the recognition of his own trademark. So while trademarks can be ways of acknowledging inventors, they can also be means of excluding inventors and even devaluing their future inventions as this famous example shows. Moreover, I do not think the economic development of society at large and maintaining a healthy industry that delivers the best improvements to people's real standard of living is this important.

Con argues that symbols are an important part of our society. While true, my counterargument (as is probably apparent from what I've said above) is that this is a bad thing. They do affect how we produce our products (less effort) and market them (focus on brand not product). It's a big problem.

I'm proud to affirm.
Spark221

Con

Spark221 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2
larztheloser

Pro

Oh well. That's annoying. Vote pro folks.
Spark221

Con

Spark221 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
Spark221

Con

Spark221 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
No comments have been posted on this debate.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by Lizard 4 years ago
Lizard
larztheloserSpark221Tied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:--Vote Checkmark3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:10 
Reasons for voting decision: ff
Vote Placed by AlwaysMoreThanYou 4 years ago
AlwaysMoreThanYou
larztheloserSpark221Tied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:40 
Reasons for voting decision: