The TASER sword! Interesting idea, right? The good news is that someone has made one. But that’s bad news for us. Why? We didn’t make it. So what’s in a name? TASER is a trademark: it’s only to be used to describe products made by TASER International.
So a guy invents a sword that also produces an electrical arc, he makes a video, he puts it on YouTube & titles it “TASER sword.” The video goes viral & we’ve been busy trying to correct this misuse of our trademarked brand name. Yes, we recognize that most people would realize this is just a guy who was goofing around & not an actual product made by TASER International. So why are we so diligent in trying to protect our brand name?
A company can lose their brand name. Zipper, kerosene, cellophane, nylon, thermos & escalator are common household words, but guess what? Those were all specific brands before they became generic terms for a product in general. Proprietary brand names can lose their registered trademark protection because they became so successful that they drifted into common usage & became generic. It’s like being a victim of your own success. Inappropriate use of a brand name puts the brand at risk.
What signals when a brand is at risk? When the brand name starts to be used as a verb. If we hear that a police officer ‘TASERed a non-compliant suspect,’ that seems innocuous. But pretty soon this verbal usage could drift to mean any kind of ‘shock’ from any ‘electrified stunning device.’ This would mean our brand has been become generic.
TASER’s fate. Our fate depends on the actions we take now to try to stop our brand becoming generic. The courts are influenced not just by general usage, but also by what efforts a company has made to ward off use of their trademark in generic form when deciding to declare a brand name generic or not.
This is why we’re so persistent about protecting our TASER brand name from misuse.
Can you think of any other brand names that may be at risk?
Another “TASER death” headline fail – “Lake TASER death investigation.” We’re used to seeing “TASER death” speculative headlines meaning someone died proximal to a TASER deployment but this headline is not accurate. The story reports that, “Medical conditions and drugs killed Glenn David Norman, not the electrical charge from being shot with Tasers.” The story actually reports the TASER ECD did NOT kill this man yet the headline still describes it as a “TASER death.” We’ve contacted the WyanesvilleDailyGuide.com but haven’t received a response. Apparently, they like to “guide” their readers by misleading them with sensationalistic headlines that don’t reflect what’s being reported in the story.
Wouldn’t it be more accurate to say “Drug death” or “Medical condition death?”
What does one do with more TASER Kills, TASER Death Headline Fails? Perhaps these errors could serve as a classic case study in bias & speculation. It might provide insight on how perceptions become reality.
To begin, the tragic death of a Brazilian named Roberto Laudisio Curti in Australia story continues its challenge with incorrect headlines. For example, read the original headline: “21-Year-Old Brazilian Tasered To Death By Australian Police.” That’s incorrect, yes? Nope. The autopsy results & cause of death have not been concluded. Headlines are meant to entice readers, so clearly this article won’t make the same mistake? Nope. The article states in an opening lead, “That’s right: Laudisio Curti was tasered to death.” The story made no bones about it and firmly convinced readers that a cause of death is known. Yet, this is not true & thus the news organization had to make correct these libelous statements on April 12.
The damage was done and if you had read the original article, you might have concluded that the TASER ECD was the cause of death. You would most likely then form an opinion about this issue. Your perceptions – not based on fact or science – then become your reality.
Now imagine an opinion poll at the end of that original story that asks, “Should the New South Wales Police be held accountable for this death?” When you read the uncorrected version, do you think that those incorrect words had any influence on the poll? It did.
Even in today’s Daily Telegraph, the media incorrectly states, “Officers positioned a mannequin of Mr Curti’s body… where the fatal stun gun shot was fired.” The fatal stun gun shot? So much for the cause of death not determined yet. That came, “Police in Taser death re-enactment after Brazilian man Roberto Laudisio Curti died in Sydney’s CBD.” Note the “TASER death” use in the headline & other hyperlinked stories on that samepage. Interestingly, there’s also no mention of the pepper spray use.
Pepper Spray? Do a Google search with these key words & you get a lot of results in 26 days since Mr. Curti’s March 18 death:
• Curti + TASER + Killed: 416,000 results
In 386 days since the death of Dominic Chiodo on March 18, 2012, there have been very few stories relative to Mr. Curti. Last week, this story, Coroners Court probes death of a man after he was sprayed with capsicum by police, provoked some research on comparing TASER vs pepper spray bias. Note the results:
• Dominic Chiodo + Capsicum + Killed: 515 results (using “pepper spray” vs. “capsicum” nets even less results: 246 results)
Why compare this to Dominic Chiodo?
There are many similarities but what’s interesting is the bias when a death occurs involving a TASER ECD. There is very little outcry when someone dies in custody when other products are used. In fact, how many of you knew that police said they used pepper spray to try to subdue Mr. Curti? Why aren’t the headlines “Pepper Spray Killed?”
The interesting aspect to this comparison of these two similar situations is in the numbers:
“Curti” + “pepper spray” + “killed” gets 3,360 results vs 416,000 replacing “pepper spray” with “TASER.”
So how did a story involving both pepper spray & TASER ECDs fail to mention the pepper spray in 99.9 percent of the stories? How does the media continue to state TASER Kills when causes of death aren’t known?
This is certainly a case that makes you go, “Hmmmm.”
Out of control Headline Failures – “Student Roberto Curti named as South American TASERed to death. “ An incident involving law enforcment, a TASER electronic control device (ECD) deployment, & the death of a Brazilian student in Australia occurred. While no one will argue the outcome of this event was tragic, we take issue with the media’s almost immediate conclusion that the TASER ECD deployment killed this young man. If you search for TASER death + Curti Google provides more than 30,000 results. The headlines run the gamut from “TASER Death, Killed by TASER, TASERed to death, & Fatal TASER Attack.” At this point, the investigation is in it’s infancy – autopsy results have not been released & toxicology tests are pending. It’s premature & only speculation as to what caused this man’s death yet the media’s headlines imply or even outright say that the TASER ECD caused the fatal result. It should be noted that capsicum spray was also used yet we’ve haven’t seen a “Capsicum Spray Death” headline.
We can only hope that people read beyond the headline & realize the media is merely speculating the causal relationship & that the cause of death has not been determined.
UPDATE: Check Google with the following search: TASER Killed Curti and as of March 23, there are 5,980,000 results. It will be six million despite this statement:
We haven’t had a TASER death headline fail in quite a while but here’s another one, “Family awaits investigation results in TASER death.” We contacted LakeNewsOnline.com yesterday for a headline TASER correction but as you can see they haven’t responded. Even the headline reports that investigators are still determining the results but they still refer to it as a “TASER death.” We hope the media would be more responsible about being accuratewith their headlines.