Saturday, April 02, 2005

Pope John Paul II Quote

"The fear of making permanent commitments can change the mutual love of husband and wife into two loves of self-two loves existing side by side, until they end in separation." Pope John Paul II

Gmail Doubles Storage

G is for growth

Storage is an important part of email, but that doesn't mean you should have to worry about it. To celebrate our one-year birthday, we're giving everyone one more gigabyte. But why stop the party there? Our plan is to continue growing your storage beyond 2 gigabytes by giving you more space as we are able.

Two gigabytes? Are they mad?

History suggests they are not. So how can they give this amount of storage for free? Let's start by considering what it must be costing them.

Most users are going to take a long time to build up that much archived mail, for example I just looked at my thunderbird mail repository containing my saved mail going back over a decade, it's only 200 megabytes, and Google would be mad if they aren't compressing their mail storage. Naively zipping up my mail reduces it to 60 Megs. Compression varies and images in popular formats like jpegs and mpegs don't compress well, so not many people are going to get compression like that, but the 2 gigabytes is somewhere between 2 gigabytes and 600 megabytes; probably closer to the 600 megabytes end. Most users won't use anything like their 2 gigabytes limit for a few years, so let's say that the average use is going to be around 1 gigabytes or 400 megabytes once compressed.

At current disk prices that works out at about 50c worth of disk per user. OK, they need backup media, and computers, and will have some other hardware costs, so lets say that doubles the requirements, bringing it to $1 per user. With their adsense technology it isn't going to take them very long to pay that dollar off from paid clicks. Obviously there's running costs as well, electricity, maintenance on their servers, etc, but no more than for any other web hosting business, and I'll bet they buy internet bandwidth at bargain basement prices.

Quote of the day

'Never offend people with style when you can offend them with substance.'
--Sam Brown

Google Gulp

Google are carrying on two of their favourite traditions
  1. April fools announcements of new services
  2. Doing it a day late

The joke

Google Gulp, a new fruity drink with a DNA reader that indexes your genetic code and modifies the drink to change your hormonal state to produce optimal effect.

This reminds me of the other DNA's description of the Sirius Cybernetics NutriMatic Drink Dispenser

The way it works is very interesting. When the 'Drink' button is pressed it makes an instant, but highly-detailed, examination of the subject's taste buds, a spectroscopic analysis of the subject's metabolism, and then sends tiny experimental signals down the neural pathways to the taste centres of the subject's brain, to see what is likely to be well received. However, no one knows quite why it does this, because it then invariably delivers a cup-full of liquid that is almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea.

Make sure you read the FAQ, it's hilarious, but oh-so-true.

A day late

Yes, it's already the second of April here. Google are obviously keeping US time, which for a service based in the US would normally be reasonable, except that I'm reading this page on, a site that they run which masquerades as a New Zealand site and customises its view for New Zealand readers, so it would be expected that they used the New Zealand time zone for their jokes.

I remember from childhood that jokes were OK until Noon on the first of April, after that the trickster was the April Fool, not the victim. So April fool, Google!

On the other hand, Google have built a massive business on not being first to market, but on coming into an existing markets and doing it so much better that they sweep the former incumbent aside. I remember the old search engines from before Google. You do a search and their databases were so confused by keyword stuffers that you had to look through 10 or 11 pages before you found what you were looking at, as time went on this got worse and you had to look for more pages, tell it to exclude certain terms, etc. With Google, if what you are looking for isn't on the second page, you've asked the wrong question.

Another good example is adsense. I used to see ads as a browser, but they were never terribly relevant to me, and as a small publisher it was difficult for me to get relevant ads on my site. With Adsense I see ads relevant to the page I'm looking at, and customised for the fact that I'm browsing from New Zealand. As a publisher I can place ads on my sites and have Google's software select the ones that are most likely to be relevant to my content.

So let's just be charitable and assume that Google have spotted the business advantages of being in the April Fools industry and are simply coming into the market with a better version. Nah!

Last word, a Gmail reference?

From the Google FAQ:

I mean, isn't this whole invite-only thing kind of bogus?

Dude, it's like you've never even heard of viral marketing.

Yahoo 360 blog

I'm having a play with the new Yahoo! 360 beta. Thanks to Wannabe Lawyer for the invite. Looking at the layout, I feel it is best suited to be a personal diary style blog. I already have one of those, right here, and I'm not interested in cutting and pasting from here to there, so I've decided to use it as a place for recording the more interesting of Google Alerts I'm already receiving. My initial feeling is that the editor and environment are a little harder for me to use than the blogspot one, but then I'm used to the blogspot environment, so I'll withhold judgement on that until I'm more skilled.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Yahoo! And Creative Commons

Y!'s done it again, they've released a beta web search for material available under a Creative Commons (CC) licence.

What's that?

It's applying permission to copy and change to written works basically the same idea as open source applies to computer software. Just as open source means that the authors of some software have chosen to allow others to freely share and use that software, while reserving other rights, a CC licence on writing means that others can take that writing and use it.

So it's free?

Yes and no. It's free as in beer, but it's not necessarily free as in speech. The original author retains all rights except those they choose to give away. With open source software, it's usually free for anyone to use for any purpose typically with the only restrictions being that they must distribute the source code of any modified version they distribute and they must distribute the modified version under the same licence. With CC, it's very common for the original author to place more restrictive conditions, such as no modifications or no commercial use. Strangely enough giving attribution to the original author is an optional, not a required, part of the CC licence. This last point doesn't make any sense to me, as I believe if you're quoting someone you should give them credit.

Why am I interested in this?

I have a little hobby web site with information about the kiore. While I can write general information for the site, there's a lot of scientific papers out there that I'd love to be able to extract large quotes from. Unfortunately standard copyright doesn't permit this, so I need to either request permission or paraphrase. Paraphrasing is fine for general text, but if I'm trying to quote a scientific paper and paraphrase I'm likely to miss a key word and give wrong information.
Of course it's not automatic, and unless the original site uses CC I'd still have to seek permission.

So why don't I use a creative commons licence myself?

Copyright laws differ from country to country, and there seems to be a different licence text for each country. Nobody has written a licence for New Zealand law that I've found yet. Actually on I have chosen to release under a CC licence, even though it may be partially incompatible with New Zealand law. At the bottom of ever page is 'Except for journal entries, and obvious quotes under different licences, content on [that] site signed [my common bylines], or "" may be reproduced under the terms of the Creative Commons Licence.' with a pointer to the licence I've chosen to use (Non commercial, must give attribution, modified versions are to be released under the same licence).
So, why don't I do that here? While I've been typing this I've realised that the same logic I applied on applies here. I think I'll update my template to make that point.

The fifth Kiore

Until about 10 minutes ago I knew 3 meanings of 'Kiore', and was dimly aware that there was something unknown in Korean that looked like "Kio Re".

The ones I knew

  • The New Zealand Rat
  • in the Manx Language, it's the word for "four"
  • Somewhere in Albania is the town of Kiore
Today when browsing I found in the ICUN Red List of Threatened Species that Hippocampus abdominalis, the big or pot-belly seahorse, is sometimes known, in New Zealand, as "Kiore".

A Google search found 12 entries, one gives the Maori Kiore-waitai.

As pre-European Maori didn't have the horse, saying it looked to them like a rat makes sense.

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Boxers in skirts?

I'm not a boxing fan, but Samoan Kiwi David Tua is facing American fighter Talmadge Griffis in the first of his comeback bouts at Waitakere Trust Stadium. Round one is currently on TV.

I don't know if it's a nod to his Polynesian heritage or what, but Tua appears to be wearing a mini-skirt.

I guess he's big enough to shrug off any flack.


Haloscan commenting and trackback have been added to this blog. Well, that's what they said they'd add. What they didn't make clear is you lose the blogspot commenting ... including the stored comments! It may not be a biggie, but ... people made those comments, I don't want to throw them away just because I've added trackback. So, about 2 hours later I have both sets of comments showing on my blog. It's ugly, but ... Let's see how it goes. What's really really ugly is I seem to have doubled up the haloscan insert on the individual article pages. Now that needs to be fixed, but not tonight.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Yahoo! 360

Yahoo! are readying their assault on the world of blogging and social networking. At the moment it's in beta and they are doing the Gmail "Invite only" trick, so you can't just sign-up for an account. This is a shame as I'd like to at least experiment with the software. If anyone from Y! is listening, I'd love an invite, email me: One thing they are doing that's, I believe, unfortunate is that you need to be logged on to Y! to even view blogs. Most of the blog directories and search engines won't like blogs that are password protected. Here's hoping that they reverse this decision soon, so I can report on it myself.

What others say

Michael Schuermann has reviewed the service.
The interface is very well designed. It works smoothly in both Firefox and Internet Explorer, and is very clean. In fact, it properly uses CSS and XHTML for it’s design. No tables used for layout as far as I could find.

The blogging tool is the centerpiece of the experience, and overall it’s pretty nice. The blog entry form is WYSIWYG, which will be a benefit to blogging newbies or others without HTML knowledge. However, there’s no spell checker that I could find. I would suggest that Yahoo add one ASAP, so that we’ll be spared from posts rife with misspelled words.

Tristan Louis says
The first thing that is apparent is that this is more than just a blogging package or social network one. From the name to the way one's web page is integrated with other parts of Yahoo!, it is clear that this is a longer term play with attempts at integration.

While some integration points are pretty solid (Yahoo! messenger, Yahoo! Launch, Yahoo! local, and the Yahoo! photo service seem well integrated), others are major misses. For example, why is it that this service has a different mailbox than my already existing Yahoo! mailbox? (and does that mean I now need to check mail in two accounts?) Going further, why are services like Yahoo profile and Geocities not integrated in this? It seems they would be natural integration point and yet they are nowhere to be seen. Last but not least is the main question about integration of and "My page" on this service. There should be another natural point of integration there, shouldn't there be?

[Update 10:31 AM 31 March] I've deleted a reference to copyright. Yahoo have explained that there was a technical mistake caused by a cut and paste from some existing code and that blog contents are copyright by their owners. See the first comment to this posting for more. I'm a software developer myself and I know that the purpose of a beta is to find and fix bugs. Yahoo! are doing just that.[/Update] Danah Boyd's summary
Anyhow, my general impression is that i'm wary, but i don't think that this is for me and i think it will be nice for the heavily integrated Yahoo user.
Marc Canter enthuses
Can't yah feel the vibe?

That's the sound of a 100,000 rushing into the next big thing - Yahoo 360. Over the coming days people's impressions will be revealed on this hybrid social network/blogging tool.

Just to be clear. This is what I call a DLA (digital lifestyle aggregator.) No they didn't get completely right- but it does successfully combine these two latest technology aspects - which each have been hailed as new 'spaces' (marketplaces, trends, what have you.)

Browsing the blogscape

This evening

I've been browsing blogs. Not just any blogs, but popular blogs. I called up the blogrolling top 100 and looked at the top 50. Now as far as I could tell these are sites that blogrolling's users, mostly bloggers themselves, have added to their links. Examining these sites should tell me what other bloggers believe makes a useful blog.

What did I see

The majority of sites I visited had a better layout and design than the default template I have here, but some were far worse; so pretty is good, but ultimately it's content not pretties. Most sites were well written. One or two were scarcely literate, so there's hope for me yet. Many sites have a strong theme, but some are personal. Themes are good, if you have a single strong, central subject you want to write regularly on. This is a personal site based around my idiosyncratic tastes, so a single leitmotiv is unlikely. A lot of them commented on the world news of the moment. Article length varied vastly. Some had essays, some were one or two paragraphs.


There seem to many definitions of what makes a good blog. I think I'll look for a visual improvement by switching to a more appealing template. Other than that I shall continue to write about what I want, approximately as often as I fee like it.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005



Falsafah means the love and pursuit of wisdom and knowledge. Serenity ; Calmness. A few weeks back I mentioned her blog.

I was back there today, she said "hello", and I wanted to catch up on how she did with work, her exams, and "Mr Nice Nose".

I could be a bastard and make you go and look, but to summarise she's reasonably confident of a pass, not working for money but developing her cartoons, and "Mr Nice Nose" seems to have dropped off the horizon.


These are the bits of her blog that inspired this posting. Please read (after you've read mine, of course .. I'll give the links again at the bottom), the first posting talks of her visit to the Islamic section of her local cemetery (I gather from context that she is follows Islam). Here the Moslem dead lie between Christians, Hebrews, Chinese (Taoists?), Persians (?? This escapes me as Zoroastrians didn't bury the dead, perhaps Bahá'í, perhaps monophysite Christians), even the Ahmadiyan (Qadiyanis). Ahmadiyani aren't even permitted to pray for Moslem dead (Rioy av Religinter, pp. 69), yet here they lie next to them.

The second posting is also entitled Faith. She talks about her visit to a restaurant with her auntie and how her faith gets her through rough times.

The blessings I got through people made me believe more in the Almighty's existence.

Why does sickness and sadness bring some people closer to the Almighty?

Why are most god-loving people sad, poor and ill?

They don't match up to the expectations of the materialistic. What's here is temporary and what's beyond is eternal.

Sadness is like a hidden beauty. Most of the time, with spiritual guidance, it's negative power moves you to create something beautiful - like art, music, writing and devoting your time helping the less fortunate.
Her belief in a greater power gives her strength and the ability to continue through hardships.


I, on the other hand am an agnostic. Please note, I am not an atheist; there's a big difference. Faith, loosely defined is the belief in something that can not be proved; something beyond the human experience. Atheists have a religious belief, they have faith, their faith is that there is no deity. Agnostic is a constructed antonym of Gnostic which comes from the Greek A- "not" and Gnostikos "One who knows"; in other word an agnostic doesn't know if there is a deity, or not. Some Agnostics believe it is not possible to know, I am not one of them either.

I've spent a lot of my adult life searching for the deity (or deities) and have come to the conclusion that if there is a deity, either he isn't ready for me to believe in him, or he doesn't feel I am ready. Either way I didn't find him (or her). OK, let's cover what I found out. God(s) are either supernatural beings that existed before the universe, and caused humanity to exist, this is the basic Judeo Christian Islamic belief; or Gods descend in some way from humans, this is in the Chinese religion where Gods start off as ghosts and gain position, and also was the ancient English (Scandinavian / Germanic) religion where the gods and people both descended from Bori, the first man. Does this help? Not really, just adds to the confusion.

I grew up in a Christian country, and my agnostic/atheist parents sent me to a Presbyterian Sunday school, so my tendencies are towards the God that existed before the universe and created everything from the ylem to the silicon my computer is made of. Reading the Torah, the Gospels, the Koran, even the book of Mormon (but like the bullet I couldn't get through Second Nephi). None of this helped though. Talking to the faithful isn't much better, they are totally convinced of their beliefs, that is what Faith means, but their faith is not mine. Some try "proving" their beliefs, unfortunately as Douglas Adams pointed out "Proof denies faith, and without faith I [God] am nothing". Actually he wasn't the first, I think Jesus is recorded as saying something similar about St Thomas.

The other thing they do that gets my goat is showing weaknesses in the arguments of the opposing camp and treating that as proof of their standpoint. That's as ludicrous as saying that "as fundamentalist Christians believe that pi is 3.0 (I Kings, 7:23), I can show that pi is more than 3.0, therefore fundamentalist Christians are wrong and pi must be 4.0". In logic this is known as the fallacy of Non sequitur. You see this a lot in creationist arguments, both Christian and Islamic, where the supposed inability of evolutionary proponents is taken as proof that the Biblical / Koranic version must be true. Of course it does nothing of the kind; proving that pi is more than 3.0 doesn't prove it is any other incorrect value; proving that there is not [yet] an explanation for the evolution of salt water tolerance in dolphins (One I remember from The Worldwide Church of God does not prove that dolphins were created exactly as they are today. Equally the Athiest position sometimes comes from "I don't believe the Bible story, hence there is no [Deity]" is a Non sequitur. Just as illogical.

Problem is I can't find the faith to believe that the Deity exists. Sure a lot of the stories resonate: God creating man then commanding all the angels to bow down to his greatest creation, and they all obeyed, except Iblith; God appearing to Moses in the form of a burning bush and then, as humans would be destroyed by his face, permitting Moses to gaze upon his hindparts; Job having a faith so strong that every torment that was sent to test him was shrugged off; God commanding Jesus to be, and he was. If you examine the stories, none of the prophets were given any real choice in the matter. They didn't have faith, God (or an Angel) came and rammed themselves down the prophets' throats.

Adam met and talked with the deity; Moses as I mentioned before was sent pretty convincing proof; Jesus at Gethsemane is recorded as saying "Remove this cup from Me" (Luke 22:42) as he feared going through with God's plan but concluded "Nevertheless, not My will, but Yours, be done" (Luke 22:42) Jesus had seen too much to be able to deny what he experienced. Job, Ezekiel, Mohomet, the Bab, Joseph Smith all were forced by the Deity to believe; not faith, but actual knowledge. Yet, the Bible records when Thomas wanted that proof he was reproved.

Thomas, of course was forgiven, and the Acts record him travelling to Asia to spread the Gospel. In India he is credited with founding the indigious Mar Thoma Christian community; travelling to China and back, ultimately he was martyred in Chennai. I've been to the place where he is supposed to have landed, and seen his bones and the arrow heads that are presumed to have killed him. Thomas had no more choice than Adam, Moses, Jesus, or the others. Of course, where he went he left a monophysite form of Christianity very different from the polytheistic Trinitarian form the successors to St Paul ultimately legalised by the corrupt and degenerating later Roman Empire.

Faith revisited

Perhaps that's the meaning of Faith, and why it is so important. Your life isn't destroyed and you still have hope; a future; a comfort. So Falsafah, perhaps you could endorse love, pursuit of wisdom. Serenity ; Calmness. Add knowledge to that list and your life may be changed, not necessarily to your advantage.

Me? I'd settle for either faith or proof.


I said I'd repeat those links, here they are: Cemetary trip, and Faith.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Now Grandfather was an inventor

Another bit of browsing

I'm waiting for Ethohost to fix an issue with the server, and being Easter Monday it's a wet autumn day so I've been doing a little browsing today. Here's one from

"In Rose Family lore, there are a great many things my grandfather was supposed to have invented. Some of the stories are actually true. He played a role in designing prefab housing after World War Two, and true to his roots as an unreconstructed Fabian, told a reporter from the London Times he didn't understand 'why we don't make similar buildings today for the homeless.' As a kid, every time I traveled on an airplane, one parent or other would mention that Papa had some role in making the black squishy resin that glued the slabs of concrete together to form runways. This is unverified and probably apocryphal, but I promise to ask next time we talk. "His other great breakthrough in the world of applied chemistry was the development of fusible interlinings, a manufacturing process that allowed apparel makers to glue garments' interior linings to their exterior fabric, obviating the need for skilled craftsmen to stitch the pieces together. Faithless to his roots as an unreconstructed Fabian, he transformed the schmatte business by allowing companies to fire lots of people and move their operations to Bangalore."
I find this interesting because both Dad & I have invented things, but nothing has ever come of them. When he was a young man Dad invented a kind of electric guitar ... Not the electric guitar as we know it, but a feedback loop on an acoustic guitar that caused a plucked string to vibrate forever until the musician decided to stop the string and then when I was a young child he and a friend had a provisional patent on a television aerial that was placed under wallpaper. From memory he gave up on that one because he couldn't find a manufacturer interested in turning the idea into a finished product. In my case, the one that really rankles was having the basic idea for a mountain bike, stronger frame, lower gears, wider tyres. I called it the "off-road bike". I never got beyond the thought experiment stage because I listened to my friends who thought nobody but me would ever be interested in riding a push bike off-road. It looks like Matthew's grandfather took his idea of fusible interlinings and pursued it with a single minded dedication. Something that both Dad & I have lacked. What would have happened if, rather than accepting a "No" from people quite happy making what they always made, Dad and his friend had invested a bit of money and made the aerials themselves? What if I'd tried for a patent on the "off-road" bicycle? I don't know if I'll ever have another flash of inspiration, but if I do I'm going with it to see where it leads me.

A large salesman of dreams!


You have to admire those French for style and panache. The page un grand vendeur de rêve which FireFox translate tool rendered as "A large salesman of dream[s]!" shows a man by a lake wearing a mint condition fisherman's vest, carrying a brand new fishing rod that's taller than he is ... and he's caught a fish the size of his hand.

Original link broken by 2015. Web archive (Missing picture) substituted.

Stupid crooks

Found on the net, a story of a really stupid thief News Archive - Hello, hello, hello- your nicked

A handbag thief was snared by police after answering his victim’s mobile phone and agreeing to return it.

"The sneak thief did not know he was talking to PC Mark Pickavance when he answered the phone hours after stealing it."

OK, street thieves are never the sharpest knife in the draw, but this guy wasn't even the sharpest spoon.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Pacific Island Pigs

The pig followed human colonisation of the pacific, so why did it get to the Polynesian islands, but miss out on reaching New Zealand until European contact? Or did it?

I got alerted to this through a web search turning up a paper from 2001 by Melinda S. Allen, Elizabeth Matisoo-Smith and Ann Horsburgh, researchers at Auckland University, who became interested as an outgrowth of the genetic work of Matisoo-Smith and colleagues on the ancestry and historic dispersal of the kiore. My interest in cute little furry creature is dealt with elsewhere.

Their paper begins "Pig was one of three animal domesticates in prehistoric Polynesia, transported from Near Oceania into Polynesia as far afield as the Hawaiian Islands by the region's earliest colonists."

Summarising Allen et al

Humans introduced pigs into New Guinea at an unknown date with archeological traces from 6000 BP, or perhaps much earlier, and "By 3000 BP, pig had been dispersed to West Polynesia (including Fiji) by Lapita-pottery bearing populations, along with dog, chicken, and the Pacific Rat." They spend some time discussing the absence of the pig from Easter Island and New Zealand, then got into discussing mitochondrial DNA analysis which unfortunately went over my head in places, but if I read them correctly they have been unable to do mitochondrial DNA analyses on ancient bone samples, but on modern pigs they have tests that distinguish Polynesian from European pigs and the New Zealand kune-kune pig corresponds to neither breed.

No pigs on Easter Island (Rapanui)

"In general, there is a decline in flora and fauna as one moves from the large, rich Melanesian islands, to the smaller and more remote Polynesian ones. Rapanui is the extreme of this rule. In ancient times, livestock consisted of the Polynesian chicken and rat (Kio`e), there being no evidence of either pigs or dogs." G. McCall

Pigs in New Zealand

So if the Polynesian ancestors of the Maori had pigs were there pigs in New Zealand before European contact? Apparently not

"There is a most interesting Maori reference to pigs in the journals of Sir Joseph Banks, who accompanied Cook on his first voyage to New Zealand. Near the North Cape of the North Island in December 1769, Cook's Tahitian interpreter, Tupaea, was told by the local Maoris that N.W. by N. or N.N.W. was a large country to which some people had sailed to in a very large canoe, the passage taking up to a month.

"From this expedition some members returned and told their countrymen that they had seen a country where people ate hogs. And for these animals they used the same name, Booah, as is used in the Islands.

"Though Tupaea ridiculed the story, claiming that it could only be believed if they had brought back pigs to prove it there is a good reason to regard this as a memory of a return voyager to Tonga, Samoa, or even the lower Islands." -- Percy Tipene

OK, if the pig wasn't here before the Europeans, and isn't a European or Polynesian breed, where on earth did Cook get them from? If seems possible he didn't. Percy Tipene's paper suggests that the ancestor of the kune-kune may well have been introduced by later European visitors.

And finally

What happened to the Polynesian chicken? Enquiring minds want to know.


A sad day for the Clement tribe as we farewelled one of our number. Michael is now in the air travelling back to his home in Australia. Diana picked me up before 10:30 AM and we headed over to Mum and Dad's. They were all downstairs to see Michael off. Apparently Dad had insisted. Michael got quite emotional as he knows that this may well be the last time he sees his father, probably Dad worked on the theory. I was thinking what it must have been like for Dad in 1972 when we left the UK at the end of our 8 week visit, even though he was much fitter than Dad is now, Dad must have had similar thoughts about his father; and in those days you didn't make international calls as readily as we do today. Diana dropped Mike and I off at the airport to get him checked in, while he was doing that I returned his rental SIM card to Vodaphone, then Diana picked us up and we went of to the butterfly creek cafe for lunch. After lunch we talked for a while and then it was time to drop him back for a farewell. Not as hard for me & Diana as we can be reasonably certain of meeting up again, Bon voyage Mike.

Cadbury Trademarks the Colour Purple

Seen while browsing

Boing Boing: A Directory of Wonderful Things reports:
"and they're not alone How does a company trademark a color? Boing Boing reader Rob says, Because it's Easter, I find myself in the possession of a Cadbury chocolate product. What do I find on the back? 'Cadbury, ellipse device, dairy milk, the glass and a half device and THE COLOUR PURPLE are Cadbury Limited trademarks used under licence in New Zealand by Cadbury Confectionery Ltd.' All our purple are belong to Cadbury Confectionery Ltd.!"
They've put in a few updates noting other colour copyrights from around the world.


As this is a New Zealand trademark I thought I'd search for other NZ trademarks on colours. First up, Simpson Grierson have a PDF discussion analysis based on the trademark commissioner's ruling on Telecom's earlier failed attempt to trademark the colour yellow. This sets forth a number of principles including that the colour must be defined by a classification system such as the Pantone system. This was followed by an ominous note that the requirements would differ from industry to industry.

Chocolate, on the other hand seems to have different rules, and Cadbury have succeeded. Norris Ward McKinnon have a piece on the history of the Cadbury claim pointing out that they have been trying to protect it since 1999, and had a run-in with the makers of Harry Potter chocolates. They finish with
"Trade mark changes that came into force last year have relaxed the boundaries of what things may be trade marked. Many colours are now trade marks owned by various companies, and associated with various products. The colour green is now exclusively BP's in relation to petrol station services. The colour yellow cannot be used by any of Telecom's rival printers of telephone directories. No home insulation manufacturer can use the colour pink other than Pink Batts, and Sunlight dishwashing liquid has rights over the sound of a 'squeak'. Arguably it is just a matter of time before 'purple' becomes a Cadbury trade mark."
Obviously the prediction has come true.

Another snippet from AJ Park's Brandscape talks about past efforts to trademark the colour Green for motor oils, apparently BP have managed to trademark it in some jurisdictions, and prevented others trademarking it in others; Nestles succeeded getting green for Milo, but V failed.

The future

How many identifiable colours are there? OK, paint colour cards & the Pantone system list thousands, my computer claims to be able to make millions, but twiddling the lowest few bits on colour codes make little or no difference to the colour perception, and there's more variation between different monitors than these low order changes make, so let's say there's 500 truly different colours. If every manufacturer can trademark only one of those colours, we'd be limited to 500 brands in each category. With WTO trademarks, that would be 500 products worldwide.

Problem is manufacturers don't play fair. Once they have peach, they'd put out a slight variation of their brand in nectarine, then gala, etc. I'm sure a certain software vendor who are well known for their ubiquitous 'Blue screen of Death' will be rushing to trademark the colour blue, and it won't just be the royal blue they use there, it will every variation they can think of. Soon new entrants won't be able to get into the market because every colour they try to make their products is already someone else's trademark.

I despair of the future in this increasingly corporatised world.

aside's spell checker doesn't recognise 'Cadbury', its only suggested correction is 'Cadaver'.