When I was growing up, the BBC provided journalism at its very best. The anchors spoke so clearly, and with such grammatical precision, that “BBC English” became a standard in its own right. If you wanted to understand something in the news, the BBC was the most accurate and unbiased report you could find.
The BBC online, however, has tarnished my impressions of this great British organisation [sic]. While their TV and radio reports are still excellent, some reporting online is sensationalist and more akin to tabloid reporting. I understand, and advocate, distilling complex matters into plain language when your target audience is unlikely to be familiar with the more technical aspects of a development, but getting facts wrong or failing to adequately investigate a claim is not what I would expect from the BBC.
I am not alone in thinking this. A recent piece in the Guardian brilliantly parodied the BBC’s online science reports. Martin Robbins, “The Lay Scientist”, wrote “This is a news website article about a scientific paper” which attracted some really funny and incisive comments too. There are websites devoted to tracking, and correcting, BBC science reports.
Two recent news reports on IP stories also caught my attention.
The first concerns Microsoft’s opposition to Apple’s application to register “APP STORE” as a trademark in the US. First, it suggests that Microsoft believes that “APP STORE” is “too” generic. This is incorrect, since there is no sliding scale of genericism (or “genericness”) which is allowable in applications to register trademarks: if a mark is generic (descriptive of the goods and/or services for which registration is sought) it can’t be registered. End of.
Secondly, no mention is made of the USPTO’s 2009 final refusal to register the mark for the very reason that it is “merely descriptive”. The refusal is publicly available, and you can read the USPTO’s letter notifying Apple of its refusal here.
Third, the report says:
“It is not clear why Microsoft has filed papers now, more than a year after the USPTO opened up Apple’s original application for opposition.”
The irony here is that if you follow the very link that the BBC provides, you will find the answer. The page linked to by the BBC says two things: first, that Microsoft’s Opposition was actually filed in July 2010, not January 2011; and second, it says:
“Current Status: An opposition after publication is pending at the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board. For further information, see TTABVUE on the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board web page.”
Immediately upon visiting TTABVUE, you can see that Microsoft filed a motion for summary judgment in respect of Apple’s application on January 10, 2011. That’s why Microsoft filed papers in January 2011 – there was a brand new proceeding. Thanks to Niamh Hall’s post on the Marques Class 46 blog for bringing this story to everyone’s attention.
The other story concerns the BBC’s report on how the “Catcher in the Rye” litigation came to an end. I’ll post about it later.