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Palantir, but not that palantir?

Posted on Wednesday, July 15, 2009 in Conlanging

Conlanging intersected with “reality” the other day for me. In listening to National Public Radio, I heard about a company called Palantir Technologies. In the program, it was said explicitly that the company was “named for the all-seeing stones in the Lord of the Rings series, sells software that fuses vast amounts of disparate data together and then allows it to be searched for connections.” Curious about this use of one of Tolkien’s constructed words, I checked out Palantir Technologies website. Their legal notice actually contains this section:

7. TRADEMARKS AND TRADE NAMES
PALANTIR, graphics, logos, designs, page headers, button icons, scripts, and other service names are the
trademarks and trade names of Palantir. Palantir’s trademarks and trade names may not be used, including as part of trademarks and/or as part of domain names, in connection with any product or service in any manner that is likely to cause confusion. Palantir Technologies is in no way affiliated with, or endorsed or sponsored by, The Saul Zaentz Company d.b.a. Tolkien Enterprises or the Estate of J.R.R. Tolkien.

My question would be “Can they do this?” If PALANTIR is “in no way affiliated with, or endorsed or sponsored by, The Saul Zaentz Company d.b.a. Tolkien Enterprises or the Estate of J.R.R. Tolkien,” how can they get away with using one of Tolkien’s words?? Wouldn’t this be like someone naming a company QAPLA’ Technologies and then saying “We are in no way affiliated with, or endorsed or sponsored by Paramount Pictures”??

Just makes the Conlanging Librarian go…hmmmm.

Bring on the comments

  1. Eric Ivers says:

    Once a word has become part of the lexicon, no matter its source, its use can be trademarked. The trademarks are very specific, and not for use of the word in every application. For instance, a company might trademark “Booger” for use as a candy. That would not stop someone else from using “Booger” as a name for a toy.

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