Better "Ask [Harvard] What You Can Do" They are going to own the trademark

Harvard UniversityImage via Wikipedia

This from Odd News:

Harvard University's
moves to seek U.S. trademarks for everyday phrases such as “Ask what
you can do” are defensive measures, a school official says.

What else are they trademarking?  “Lessons Learned” and “Managing Yourself” said the Boston Globe in their August first, 2009 Article.  It also has a pending application for “The world’s thinking.”

The Boston Globe reports:

“Securing each trademark costs from $500 to $1,000 in the United States
and thousands more overseas, Calixto said. Legal disputes run up the
costs. Harvard pays for the effort with the more than $1 million in
royalties it earns each year from licensing its trademarks to such
entities as bookstores and mall kiosks selling Harvard apparel; about a
third of royalties go toward scholarships, he said.”

To me, it is interesting, but also disconcerting.  I have a cousin who was in a music program at a public university and the university had them sign an agreement that stated all music created was property of the university and could not be resold or reused in any way.  The problem was, she and some friends created a really cool song (that I have on my ipod — shhhh -don't tell) and it is stuck.  The University isn't going to do anything with it.

To me, colleges should be about the care and feeding of ideas –promotion of capitalism. But it seems that colleges and many educational organizations are becoming very much about making money — you know, it is OK to sell collegiate attire, but it sure seems that this trademark thing is going pretty far — who could keep up with it all?

What do you think?  Is it OK for Harvard (or other universities) to trademark such common phrases?  Do you feel differently if it was a public university spending all of these resources on trademarks of this type?

Oh, and if Veritas is sweating, Harvard knows that they are a software company and doesn't plan to pursue that one.  (Look at the shield above.)

Just not sure on his one in my own mind and looking for some of your thoughts!

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