Wal-Mart Tries To Trademark Smile
I find some of Wal-Mart's practices as upsetting as you do, although I do shop there occasionally out of necessity. One, I'm poor and two, since Wal-Mart has put nearly every other grocery store around out of business, I'd have to drive about 12 miles every time I need a gallon of milk. Believe me, this in no way endears the mammoth retailer to me. Every time I walk into Wal-Mart, I grumble about how much I hate it. It's just one of those things that happens when you grow up: you do stuff you hate.
So when I saw the headline for this story, I too, was completely ready to crucify Wal-Mart for this latest greed motivated action. But it turns out that there's more to this story. For one, a frenchman named Franklin Loufrani, who claims to have invented the symbol, threatened to seek the trademark to the smiley in the States, before Wal-Mart ever thought of such a move. Actually, several people have claimed over the years to have invented the smiley, and it's never been proven just who it was, amusing Forrest Gump theories notwithstanding. My bet is that it was someone's second grade teacher, gleefully applying it to someone's perfect spelling paper. But I digress.
Wal-Mart, in response to Loufrani's threat to cut them off from using a successful part of their advertising campaign, decided to seek the trademark for themselves. In the U.S. the smiley is considered public domain. And apparently, up until Loufrani's threats, Wal-Mart had no problem with this.
Why is this important? In the grand scheme of things, it's not. There are more pressing issues with Wal-Mart, like how they routinely break U.S. labor laws. My point is that too often we see a headline or a news item and we decide the case before we get all the facts. In a way this is human nature, we all practice "selective reasoning", molding what we consume to conform to what we already think. But too much of that is an enemy to reason and has led to the coarsening of the political discourse around this country for too long. I'm not sure of what my aim is here, but I would just like to see more people on every part of the political spectrum, carefully consider what they are hearing, without applying any filters to the information beforehand.
Categories: Politics, Opinion