Harlan Ellison® – Registered Trademark

I’m finally getting around to reading the April 2006 issue of Locus Magazine. I would’ve started sooner but…oh, never mind.

In this issue, Harlan Ellison®‘s name comes up a few times in two places: his tribute to Octavia E. Butler (never leave off the “E”, he warns) and in Gary K. Wolfe’s review of The Best of Philip José Farmer, in which he talks about Farmer’s “Riders of the Purple Wage” which first appeared in Ellison®‘s landmark anthology Dangerous Visions.

Do you know what all of these mentions of Ellison® has in common? They are all followed by the Registered Trademark symbol.

Ellison®, whose defense of his stories’ copyrights are legendary, has apparently squeezed his copyrights so tightly that a trademark symbol popped out of his name. More power to him, I say. If Harlan Ellison® wants all instances of Harlan Ellison®‘s name to be suffixed with the symbol, then Harlan Ellison® should get exactly what Harlan Ellison® wants. At the very least, it’s fun to look at in print. It’s like this decade’s Prince Rogers Nelson name debacle, only this time its “The Author Formerly Known as Harlan Ellison.”

2 thoughts on “Harlan Ellison® – Registered Trademark”

  1. To be fair, I can think of a dozen reasons why Harlan might have chosen to trademark his name. He’s had quite a few instances where fans and dealers have created and sold merchandise with his name on it without ever consulting him beforehand.

    The most egregious example of this took place at a convention that was honoring the fiftieth anniversary of his first publication. The convention sold TV shirts with the words “Fifty Short Years of Harlan Ellison,” which, if I remember correctly, annoyed him on three levels. First of all, he felt insulted by the use of the word “short,” which was a deliberate joke on his height. Secondly, the convention did not consult him beforehand; had they done so, he would have asked them not to do it. And thirdly, the convention had no plans to share any of the proceeds with him.

    Harlan’s not the first one to do this sort of thing. Rock singers have trademarked their names as well. I remember once seeing an official program from a Billy Joel concert, with a trademark symbol after his name each time it appeared. In the back, there was a page catalog of official Billy Joel merchandise one could purchase, with a plea not to buy unlicensed stuff.

    Trademarking one’s name is a step in fighting bootleg merchandise.

  2. LOL ROF :D The original message cracked me up. And Mr. Burstein well you’re considering it a little to seriously. Let’s review Mr. Ellison got cranky at a convention, that never happened before or since.

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