Recently, going about daily errands, I came across an ad, on social media and on the radio, for a diet program improbably called noom.
Half a century ago in the sixties, in my minimalist phase as a poet, I came up with a one-word poem: noom. It was published that year, alone on a page in outsize type, in John Perreault’s little magazine, Elephant. It also appears in my poetry collection The Rest (1971). When Complete Minimal Poems (which includes noom) was published in 2007, followed by a rave in the New York Times Book Review, it went through four printings and was honored with the Poetry Society of America’s William Carlos Williams award.
In recent months I’ve seen noom attributed to me a couple of times on Twitter:
The one below was the result of a class assignment:
Here is the advertisement I saw on the internet—noom in the upper left corner with a trademark sign:
I’m trying to picture a design team putting their heads together and coming up with noom for a diet program. Eye-catching? It’s also not impossible that an ad department or agency, or someone in it, might own a copy of Complete Minimal Poems.
I consulted with several intellectual property lawyers about this corporate grab, for which I receive neither attribution nor remuneration, and they cited the copyright law and the trademark insignia as legal obstacles. The copyright law decrees that a single word can’t be copyrighted. I’d argue that noom isn’t in the dictionary, and rather is a minimalist invention that utilizes the alphabet. I’ve received both attribution and remuneration for other similar pieces. Such works would require a release from me to be trademarked.
To sum up: A published, copyrighted, widely circulated example of word art should be subject to this protection.
A lawsuit would cost six figures.