The other day I wondered why some well-known technology acronyms -- notably UPnP -- aren't expanded on the home pages of the organizations promoting those technologies. In the case of UPnP, at least, the reason is that it isn't (any longer) an acronym:
The UPnP mark is not an acronym and should not be represented as such. The mark is a single entity that happens to consist of four symbols (i.e., letters), which individually do not have any particular meaning. [Tips for using the UPnP Certification Mark]Why the switch? Apparently it's because you can't trademark an acronym. So, for example, JDBC, like UPnP, has been uprooted and now exists as a free-floating string of "symbols (i.e., letters)". JDBC is a registered trademark, and although Sun was not able to expunge all references to Java Database Connectivity from its website, the JDBC home page nowhere mentions the term.
I found this puzzling in light of this Q and A from the trademark FAQ of a Boston technology law firm:
13. Can I register an acronym of my company name as a trademark?NBC hasn't, to my knowledge, ceased to be the National Broadcasting System. Of course JDBC and UPnP are trademarks, while NBC and CBS are service marks, so perhaps the distinction lies there. But whatever the explanation, the pretense that JDBC and UPnP don't mean "Java Database Connectivity" and "Universal Plug and Play" is simply Orwellian. It's already way too hard to explain technology in ways people can understand. We can ill afford to drain the meaning out of our language.
Companies with lengthy trade names will sometimes use the acronym of their trade name as their primary service mark: e.g. Columbia Broadcasting System, National Broadcasting System, and American Broadcasting System, use the acronyms CBS, NBC and ABC, respectively, as marks for the service of providing news and entertainment services over electronic media.
Former URL: http://weblog.infoworld.com/udell/2004/05/11.html#a996