Hormel Foods Corp. in Austin, Minn., sued Seattle software-maker Spam Arrest to try to stop it from using the capitalized word "Spam" as a trademark name. But the U.S. Trademark Trial and Appeal Board ruled against Hormel, saying people won't confuse software that blocks unwanted e-mails with the iconic canned meat that's been around for 70 years, the Star Tribune in Minneapolis reported Thursday.
Spam Arrest attorney Derek Newman says the ruling clears the way for other companies to use the word in trademarked product names when battling Internet spam.
"Spam Arrest fought this battle for the whole software industry," Newman told the Star Tribune. "The case is limited to the e-mail usage of the word spam, which will not detract from the fame associated with Hormel's meat products trademark."
Hormel accepts the slang use of "spam," with a lower-case "s" to describe unsolicited e-mail, but company officials note it spent 70 years to build the Spam brand.
The company said it is reviewing its options, including whether to appeal.