Wednesday, May 04, 2005


Picture credit:
Excel web sharing - spreadsheet collaboration over the Internet made easy with BadBlueThe inimitable is back in the news again, albeit through a mention on CNet's blog. I don't mean to demean media outlets that have turned to blogging -- least of all CNet, because they do a good job -- but they exude a slight odor of late-comer to the whole blogging party.

Despair is the firm who markets "de-motivational" posters - the bizarro-universe version of those classic posters so prevalent in cube farms. Here are a couple of Despair's good ones:

  • Motivation - If a pretty poster and a cute saying are all it takes to motivate you, you probably have a very easy job. The kind robots will be doing soon.

  • Get to work - You aren't being paid to believe in the power of your dreams.

  • Achievement - You can do anything you can set your mind to when you have vision, determination and an endless supply of expendable labor.

  • Sounds like Carly was working on some of this material. Anyhow, here's a few I just came up with:

  • Losing - Because your best will, frankly, never be good enough.

  • Effort - If, at the end of the day, you can say you gave it your best shot, you will be - a liar.

  • Focus - Don't concern yourself with "goals". The obstacles in your way are insurmountable.

  • Innovation - Creativity is easiest when you can steal ideas from underlings.

  • Anyhow, the funniest thing on Despair's site relates to the frowny emoticon :-( . They set off a firestorm of controversy in '01 when they (really) trademarked the frowny and claimed that everyone who used it had to pay royalties. Of course, the whole royalty thing was tongue-in-cheek... but some didn't get it.

    DALLAS, TX - February 5th, 2001 - Individuals across the globe have registered their outrage and despair at the recent announcement by Despair, Inc. that they had been awarded a registered trademark for the 'frowny' emoticon by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and that the company intended to sue anyone who used the trademarked symbol in email.

    The firestorm of controversy even led to an entire newsthread discussing the lawsuit on the highly respected tech-news site Slashdot, which in turn inspired a subsequent story by the Gray Lady herself, The New York Times.

    But the outrage wasn't limited to the English speaking world. Newspapers and websites across the globe voiced all manner of bemusement, confusion, disdain and disgust over the trademark and lawsuit.

    In the face of international public outcry, company founder and COO Dr. E.L. Kersten announced today that he was prepared to offer a compromise to the global Internet community -- one that would allow for the continued legal use of the symbol in email.

    Kersten explained both a change of heart and of policy in a press release...

    And some poor, gullible losers (oops, I mean "L" is for "Love") even assumed that Despair was scanning all Internet email traffic for trademark violations. Some of the letters they received were classic.

    From: Mark (removed) <(removed)@(removed).com>
    Subject: Frowny Face suit
    Date: Mon, 29 Jan 2001 09:15:50

    To whom it may concern,

    If you have searched any of my mail, send me confirmation of that fact immediately. Under consumer protection laws, and the Freedom of Information Act, you are required to confirm or deny that you have a record of searching my mail. My two addresses are (removed)@(removed).com and mark@(removed).

    Failure to comply is punishable by law.

    If you have searched any of my mail, you have illegally searched me and are in violation of civil rights laws.

    Mark (removed)
    From: "Dr. E.L. Kersten"
    To: Mark (removed) <(removed)@(removed).com>
    Subject: Re: Frowny Face suit
    Date: Tue, 30 Jan 2001 11:34:23
    Mr. (removed):

    While we did not find either of your referenced email addresses in our list of 7,000,000 some odd citizens who have violated our trademark via email, we'll take your panicked entreaty as a confession of probable guilt and make sure to keep an eye on your future communications.

    Attentively yours,

    E.L. Kersten, Ph.D.


    From: Paul (removed)
    Date: Wed, 31 Jan 2001 14:40:27

    Best site I've enjoyed in some time. I was alerted to it by a bulletin board discussion about the frowning emoticon lawsuit. Out of 31 posts, one person "got it."

    From: "Dr. E.L. Kersten"
    To: Paul (removed)
    Subject: Re:
    Date: Wed, 31 Jan 2001 19:01:47

    No offense intended- but it may be time to start hanging around in smarter bulletin boards.

    E.L. Despair in the Air

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