Maclean's Magazine
vol.108, no.42, p.13
October 16, 1995
Opening Notes

Bell gets finger burned on 'The Net'

Users of the Internet, the globe-spanning web of computer communication networks, are usually a loosely organized lot. But they can be a force to be reckoned with - if provoked. The giant Montreal-based Bell Canada has learned that lesson, after applying to trademark the phrase "The Net'' to describe its own commercial package of telecommunications services. It launched the action back in 1992, when only the computer cognoscenti were familiar with the working of the Internet. But the computer communications system has since moved into the mainstream - and become familiarly known as the Net. Just last month, members of Electronic Frontier Canada, a cyberspace lobby group of about 100, caught up with Bell's application through a notice in the Trademarks Journal. The organization's president, David Jones, a computer scientist at McMaster University in Hamilton, accused Bell of trying to "kidnap" the Internet. And members started posting notices on the Internet, asking supporters to start collecting every reference they could find to the phrase "the Net" - to show how it has entered the vernacular. Bell quickly got the message, and announced - on the Net - that it was dropping its trademark application. Hackers of the world unite.


Copyright © 1995 by Maclean's Magazine. All Rights Reserved. Reprinted with permission.