Pig, pork and sausages: a message from the editor

Some contributors to and readers of the Journal of Intellectual Property Law & Practice (JIPLP) have already read a post on the Telegraph website under the title "Oxford University Press bans use of pig, sausage or pork-related words to avoid offending Muslims". Reading beyond the misleadingly broad headline, this post explains that this ban apparently refers to the use of the words in question in children's books in what it describes as "an apparent bid to avoid offending Jews and Muslims".

As JIPLP editor I have sought for the past decade to focus solely on matters of intellectual property law and to avoid raising matters of a religious nature.  However, at this point I feel that it is necessary for me to make my position clear on this issue.

First, I do not know whether this ban is real or imaginary or whether, in the event that it was issued, it remains in force or has been withdrawn. But I can say that I have received no instruction whatever from Oxford University Press with regard to the exclusion or inclusion of any words from JIPLP's content.  Contributors should therefore feel confident of including the words in question in articles and Current Intelligence notes submitted for publication.

Secondly, writing as a practising orthodox Jew and as an active member of a Jewish community, I am not aware of any support for the proposition that the publication of words such as "pig", "pork" and "sausage" might be expected to give offence to me or my co-religionists.  The word "pig" appears in the Bible itself and is read aloud in synagogues whenever a portion of the Bible that contains that word falls to be recited, without apparent offence, embarrassment or discomfort to members of the congregation.  "Sausage" is not in any event a word that is specifically related to pigmeat; kosher meat-based and indeed vegetarian sausages are widely available and eaten with pleasure by those who purchase them.  I cannot speak for my friends and colleagues in the Muslim intellectual property community, but I can say that none has yet raised this issue with me.

From an intellectual property point of view, words such as "pig" and "pork" cannot realistically be avoided.  They appear in the Nice Classification of goods and services for which trade marks may be registered.  The words appear in countless specifications for protected geographical indications and designations of origin -- and they feature heavily on the trade marks register itself.  The UK IPO's searchable database of trade marks lists 25 pages of search results for trade marks which include "pig" and another 17 pages of search results for "pork".  As for patents, a search of Espacenet this morning revealed 22,174 "pig" references in the titles or abstracts of patents on that database.

Please assume, therefore, that there is no change in JIPLP policy.

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