Exclusively for Everyone: Oxymorons ‘R’ Us

Last week’s golden oldie seemed to be popular, so here is another article from this blog’s archive. This time on exclusive, sole and non-exclusive licences.

IP Draughts

In 2000, the UK department store, Marks & Spencer, unveiled a new strapline, Exclusively for Everyone, that was to feature in their advertisements for nighties for most of the Noughties.  Well, for all their products, really, but IP Draughts is susceptible to a finely-turned alliteration.

Every time he saw this strapline, the pedant in IP Draughts thought: you can’t be exclusively for everyone.  It is a self-contradictory statement.

Another phrase that induces this reaction in IP Draughts is sole and exclusive licence.  You can’t have a sole and exclusive licence.  It can be sole or it can be exclusive.  It can’t be both at the same time.

Usually, when the phrase appears in a licence agreement, the drafter intends to grant (or be granted) an exclusive licence.  IP Draughts has never encountered a drafter who argued to retain sole and exclusive when the potential contradiction was pointed out. …

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