National News

Melting Of Antarctic Ice Sheet Might Be Unstoppable

NPR News - Mon, 2014-05-12 13:19

A new study examined 40 years of data collected by ground, air and satellite stations and found that sea level could rise by more than 10 feet in coming centuries.

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Re-Enactment Of Satanic Mass Planned At Harvard Causes Uproar

NPR News - Mon, 2014-05-12 13:00

Harvard's president called a school club's plan to hold a black mass "abhorrent." The Catholic Church called it "repugnant." The club said it was "entirely educational."

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Overused Medical Services Cost Medicare Billions Of Dollars

NPR News - Mon, 2014-05-12 12:57

A treatment that is appropriate for one patient can be unnecessary or even counterproductive for another. But Harvard researchers found a way to estimate truly wasteful Medicare spending.

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Sandwich Monday: Domino's Specialty Chicken

NPR News - Mon, 2014-05-12 12:10

For this week's Sandwich Monday, we try a new dish from Domino's. It's essentially pizza with crust made out of chicken.

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Nearly 3 Years After Quake, Washington Monument Reopens

NPR News - Mon, 2014-05-12 12:02

The obelisk has recovered from damage sustained during an earthquake that hit Washington, D.C., in 2011.

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In Two Eastern Ukraine Provinces, Bold Steps Toward Independence

NPR News - Mon, 2014-05-12 12:02

Two regions of eastern Ukraine, Donetsk and Luhansk, voted Sunday on referendums for self-rule. Separatists in Donetsk announced overwhelming support for independence.

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Apology, Defense And Defiance: The Sterlings Speak Out

NPR News - Mon, 2014-05-12 12:02

Banned Los Angeles Clippers owners Donald Sterling and his wife, Shelly, have conducted separate television interviews. Donald told CNN that he's not a racist and that he's sorry if he has offended anyone; Shelly told ABC that she will fight to keep her 50 percent stake in the team.

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'Past The Point Of No Return:' An Antarctic Ice Sheet's Slow Collapse

NPR News - Mon, 2014-05-12 12:02

NASA held a press conference to discuss the stability of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet and its potential contribution to future sea level rise. The researchers announced that the ice sheet's collapse is both underway and unstoppable.

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'Frontline' Doc Explores How Sept. 11 Created Today's NSA

NPR News - Mon, 2014-05-12 11:58

PBS looks at the origins of the agency's surveillance program and the extraordinary steps top government officials took to give it legal cover and keep it hidden.

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Deadly MERS Virus Detected In Florida

NPR News - Mon, 2014-05-12 11:46

A case of Middle East respiratory syndrome has been found in the U.S. The virus has killed about a quarter of the people known to have been infected. But the risk to the public remains low.

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Delhi's rise to 'global hub' status

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-05-12 11:00

What used to be an administrative town has now become one of India's biggest hubs for the global economy.

Rana Dasgupta, author of the new book Capital: The Eruption of Delhi, lives there now, and says that he experienced this change firsthand.

"The whole city had been shaken up, and people's inner worlds had changed, too," he said. "I thought it was a chapter in the onward march of capitalism that needed to be written about and recorded."

Dasgupta dismisses the idea that a modern country has to become Westernized.

"Some people in the West will look at it and say, 'We know this, this happened in our past. And what will happen in the future is also known to us, because it happened in our past,'" he said. "There's nothing about the Western past that teaches us anything about the Asian future."

Whatever that future may hold, Dasgupta says, residents of India's capital city are optimistic.

"The only way forward is forward for people in India, and I think they think the 21st century is going to deliver all the things that the 20th century couldn't."

Italy Searches For African Migrants After Boat Sinks In Mediterranean

NPR News - Mon, 2014-05-12 10:58

A migrant boat destined for the Sicilian island of Lampedusa sank Monday — the second such incident in as many days.

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Older Women May Actually Be More At Risk For Cervical Cancer

NPR News - Mon, 2014-05-12 10:40

Cervical cancer screening often isn't recommended for women after age 65, but that may be when they're most vulnerable, a study finds. African-American women face a particularly high risk.

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Your next car rental could be a Ford. Or... a Ferrari.

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-05-12 10:34

Norwegian Andreas Arnhoff hopped a flight to New York on a whim and when he arrived, he decided to rent a car.

But he didn’t want any old airport rental.

Arnhoff, 24, says he works in real estate and that cars are a hobby for him. Back in Norway, he owns a Porsche 911 and a Porsche Cayenne, both turbo. 

His first choice for a rental was a Lamborghini Murciélago, but it wasn't available when he called exotic car rental company Gotham Dream Cars.

“We had to go with the Ferrari,” Arnhoff says, laughing. 

Gotham delivered a bright red Ferrari 458 Spider with a retractable roof to his midtown hotel. The company paid about $340,000 for it – which is actually about $40,000 more than the list price because demand for the car is so high. For a one-day rental, it charges nearly $2,000, plus tax and a $15,000 security deposit.

In the last few years, more companies have started renting luxury and exotic cars, including big national chains like Enterprise and Hertz.

“We weren’t sure how customers were going to be receptive of the collection,” says Paula Riviera, a Hertz spokesperson.

About a year and a half ago, Hertz launched its Dream Car rental line with 25 cars, including “a couple Lamborghinis, a few Ferraris.”

“It’s proven so popular that today we have more than a thousand cars,” she says.

At the Newark Airport, a Jaguar and Mercedes sit parked on a ramp that Riviera calls the “eye candy display.” She says some people who have booked a regular old midsize might walk by the display and upgrade on the fly.

There are convertibles in California and Range Rovers in Colorado. The company shifts cars around to meet demand, even to smaller markets like Kansas City and Detroit.

The move into exotics makes sense for the national companies because the rental market is very competitive, says Chris Brown, the executive editor of Auto Rental News.

“I wouldn’t say [the market’s] saturated,” says Brown. “But it’s certainly full. So the major car rental companies are really looking for new avenues to exploit.

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However, he thinks exotics will remain a niche business.

“Although luxury and exotic rentals maybe growing into new parts of the country, the lion-share of the market is going in south Florida, southern California, maybe New York,” he says.

Many independent exotic rental companies are also looking for ways to expand.

Because rental bookings are most popular on the weekend, Gotham Dream Cars has created shorter, less expensive driving “experiences” on weekdays, which allow people to drive the cars in a closed parking lot or racetrack at higher speeds. These events typically target gear heads interested in testing the car’s performance.

In contrast, data from the cars show that renters don’t tend to drive the cars that far or fast.

“Most people rent the car to drive around,” says Gotham’s COO Rob Ferretti. “They go to Starbucks 50 times, they drive around Times Square a million times. You rent the car to be seen.”

It’s an accessory business, he says, like Rent The Runway – for men. Though women purchase these luxury car rentals as gifts, nine out of ten renters or “experience” drivers are indeed men.

As for Norwegian traveler Andreas Arnhoff, he says he's planning to take his Ferrari shopping – to an outlet mall in the suburbs.

A Prom Like Any Other — But With A Few Exceptions

NPR News - Mon, 2014-05-12 10:32

Oregon's teacher of the year organized the Aloha Prom for students with special needs. Students from other towns drove as much as an hour to attend Friday's event in Portland.

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The English language is one big brand graveyard

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-05-12 10:03

Turns out, the English language is a graveyard for brand names. We have a lot of words that were once trademarked brands.

Aspirin. Cellophane. Escalator. 

Yo Yo. Trampoline. Saran wrap.

Heroin.

Yeah, Heroin was a brand. Like Nike. Or Aunt Jemima.

“There used to be a branded form of morphine called heroin,” says Roger Schechter who teaches law at George Washington University. There’s a great list here.

Genericide and the Menace of Slang

(Can someone please make a movie with that title?)

In some cases, companies just went out of business and their brand name lived on as nouns. In other cases, the trademark was taken from them. In all cases, the trademarked name had become a generic buzz word for a type of product. The trademark and a company’s rights to it then slip away into the roiling ether of vernacular English. 

Intellectual property lawyers have a word for this: Genericide.

“It’s a disaster,” says Schechter: When trademark rights are lost, competitors can use the same word that you spent your life building up.

Sentenced to Death

It’s happened most often to companies that have invented something totally new, for which a word doesn't already exist.

“For example, a Frisbee,” says Ron Butters, professor Emeritus at Duke University. “What else do you call it?” (Frisbee, however, hasn’t yet lost its trademark).

The official, legally binding moment of trademark death occurs where many, many words have been sentenced to torture by parsing: in court.

“Company A will sue company B for trademark infringement, and company B will respond by saying ‘Your term has become generic and your mark needs to be canceled,” says Butters.

To prove it, lawyers would enlist linguists like Butters to do surveys and word counts in print, on TV, and online to see if people use a brand name in a generic way. That’s really all it takes. 

Synonyms and Vaccines

But, Butters says, genericide “doesn’t happen very often anymore.”

There’s a reason so many of the examples date from the middle of the 20th century. These days, companies do everything they can to prevent genericide.

“A classic example is Xerox,” says Jed Wakefield, a partner at Fenwick and West, where he advises firms who are anxious about losing their trademarks. “Xerox years ago used to advertise to remind the public that Xerox is a brand name for a photocopier and it’s not a generic term for making a photocopy.”

What Xerox did there was give the public another word to use instead of Xerox. The word “photocopy.” It’s a kind of legal vaccine. A company that did not offer up any alternative noun soon enough was Trampoline. The trademark died, but the noun lived on.

Generitol (jargonium methyl legalese) Cures What Ails You

The pharmaceutical industry has become especially adept at this synonym technique, says Schechter.

“When Viagra comes off patent, there’s going to be an enormous number of companies wanting to sell ‘generic Viagra’,” he says. “But they can’t call it that.”

It's not just because Viagra is trademarked, but because Pfizer has offered an alternate name: Sildenafil Citrate. It’s clearly placed on every logo. And it’s not particularly catchy. 

Have Your Cake And Brand It Too

Ideally, a firm these days could enjoy the best of both worlds: have their product become so popular that it begins to be used as a verb or noun, and still have everyone know it’s a brand at the same time.

“Like FedEx, someone might say 'I’ll FedEx that to you,'” says Wakefield. “One could certainly argue that’s promotional for the FedEx brand.” But FedEx the company would almost certainly not allow another shipping firm to use the word in any capacity.

“We counsel clients on where to draw the line, and ultimately where you draw those lines is as much a business question as a legal judgement.”

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