IMAX demands Ars Technica retract article (Update: IMAX apologizes)


The company objected to being mentioned in a story about SteamVR, a virtual reality project by Valve. So it ordered them to take the post down.

We believe that your incorrect reference to IMAX when describing this product is misleading to readers as we do not believe that it is possible for a virtual reality system to replicate the experience of an IMAX theater, which is provided by cutting edge projection and sound technology on screens up to 35.72 metres. We request that all future articles regarding this "room-scale" virtual reality system make no reference to our registered trademark.

This means, of course, that now Ars Technica has published an article about the cluelessness of IMAX general counsel G. Mary Ruby.

IMAX's letter is part of a disturbing trend, in which some companies believe owning a trademark actually allows them to control any speech about their product. Too many examples abound already of trademark owners that believe they're entitled to control how movies and TV shows portray their brand. IMAX has taken that to the next level here, believing they're entitled to literally silence someone speaking to a journalist because the name of a corporation happened to slip out of his mouth.

As a side note, IMAX's own licensing practices have muddied their brand over the years far more than any Ars Technica article could. For years now, people have been noticing that IMAX means very different things in different theaters. Consumers keep getting charged IMAX-sized prices for disappointingly small IMAX screens, some of which aren't even 25 percent of the size of the big IMAX screens that first set the standard. IMAX has watered down its own product, necessitating the "up to 35.72 meters" language used in their letter to Ars.

I wonder if the intent of these threats is performance. They know they'll be published, mocked and ridiculed, but that's OK, because they're seen defending the trademark the way courts like. A strategy to stave off the looming genericide that brands such as IMAX suffer from.

UPDATE: IMAX issued an apology to Ars Technica