|An advertisement for Jesus Jeans|
(It looks like this model could have
gone for the next size up!).
In conversational English we sometimes say "Jesus!" to express anger or outrage (or the shortened "Jeez!"). Some of the people in the newspaper article we are going to look at today are definitely saying "Jesus!" They are very unhappy that one company is not sharing the "Jesus" name. Who would have though that dozens of clothing companies would choose "Jesus" as their brand name? And then start fighting about it? All of this is not in the spirit of Jesus himself, but it does make for interesting reading (and English study!).
Let's take a look at the newspaper article, which is entitled "If You Take These Jeans' Name in Vain, Prepare to Meet Their Maker" and is from the Wall Street Journal. The expressions we will study are in blue.
Inspired by his time leading a singles ministry in Virginia Beach, Va., Michael Julius Anton came up with an idea for a clothing line that he thought was catchy and unique—"Jesus Surfed." He was on good ground with "Surfed." But when he went to register the trademark, he found someone had beaten him to Jesus.
In a branding coup of biblical proportions, an Italian jeans maker persuaded the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in 2007 to register the word "Jesus" as a trademark, giving the company exclusive rights in America to sell clothing bearing the name of Christianity's central figure.
Since then, the owner of the trademark, Jesus Jeans, has clamped down on Jesus-themed apparel, pitting its litigators against more than a dozen other startup clothing lines it claims appropriated "Jesus" without the company's blessing. The company doesn't have a trademark on images of Jesus, just the word.
Before taking on Jesus Surfed, Jesus Jeans objected to "Jesus First," "Sweet Jesus," and "Jesus Couture," among others, which abandoned their trademark efforts. In some cases, when met with resistance, Jesus Jeans warned that it could sue for damages.Now let's look at the definitions of vocabulary:
(to) come up with – to think of
catchy – memorable, appealing (Note: You will often heard the phrase "catchy tune," meaning a song or melody that stays in your head and is fun to sing, though eventually it might drive you crazy)
on good ground – safe with (Note: this terms first appeared in the Bible, which is probably why the author of this newspaper article chose to use it in a story about Jesus: Here is a quote from Luke 8:15, King James Bible: But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.)
(to) register a trademark – to formally register a symbol (name, logo, etc) for a product with a governmental patent office (in the USA, with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, USPTO)
(to) beaten someone to – to do something before somebody else has a chance (in this case, Jesus Jeans beat Jesus Surfed to register the "Jesus" trademark)
of biblical proportions – great; having big consequences; large in scope (Note: This often refers to natural disasters -- Example: A wildfire of biblical proportions swept through California and destroyed hundreds of houses). Biblical is the adjective form of Bible, so here we have a play on words.
(to) clamp down on – to get strict about
(to) pit someone against – to put someone up to fighting someone or something
blessing – two definitions (which is what makes this word choice another play on words here): 1) approval and 2) a favor or gift bestowed by God (Note: there are some other definitions of this word also)
(to) meet with resistance – to face one's objections to something
(to) sue for damages – to take someone to court and try to get money (or other compensation) from them for harming one's business