The great name robbery FTC

August 27, 1996|By Andrei Codrescu

MY FRIEND George Myers Jr., book critic at the Columbus Dispatch, is about to have his first name interdicted by John Kennedy Jr. It seems that George Jr.'s on-line publication,, is rubbing John John the wrong way, because he fears losing money on his own web site,

The trouble is that, as George Jr. charmingly puts it, his 'zine is worth ''a dozen Barney videos, an array of socks and a portable CD player that burps when my car hits a twig,'' while JFK Jr.'s 'zine is worth too many zeros to mention, being a well endowed print mag as well, full of glossy ads of booze bottles & lascivious models.

JFK Jr.'s lawyers have put George Myers Jr. on notice: Change your name or else.

The funny thing is that no one at is named George, while Mr. Myers' name really is George. The George on the rich guy's mag comes supposedly from George Washington, who's dead and who wouldn't dream in a million years that some guy using his name to sell ads would try to stop some guy named George from using his own name.

Consider another current situation, where a guy names Mukesh Shretta was put on notice by Donald Trump's lawyers to change the name of the strip joint he owns in Marietta, Georgia -- Taj Mahal. Mr. Trump doesn't want people mistaking his gross wedding-cake building in Atlantic City for a strip joint in Marietta.

Suppose anyone would, they would surely be better off, as Mr. Shretta's attorney said, enjoying ''the female form'' instead of gambling.

Be that as it may, the name Taj Mahal belongs to Shah Jahan, an Indian emperor who built the original palace as a mausoleum for his wife in the 17th century.

So what's with all these rich guys suddenly trying to steal people's names all over the place? Names that aren't even theirs? Are these people going to steal history, too? What's next, if you own George Washington and the Ta Mahal? Exclusive rights to, let's say, the name America, or France, or Egypt?

For the sake of sanity, I'll assume that it's just an infestation of lawyers gone insane. If JFK Jr. or Mr. Trump really thinks that they can squash some little guys for being called George or Taj Mahal, they have a think coming. Namely, millions of guys named George camping on their lawns and thousands of Indian restaurants and strip joints named Taj Mahal delivering leftovers at their places.

Andrei Codrescu made up his name and dares you to sue him for it.

Pub Date: 8/27/96

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