Russ Allbery wrote:
Hector Santos <hsantos(_at_)santronics(_dot_)com> writes:
This was the first database-driven system that translated all
elements of an inter-office memorandum/mail, then in paper form,
along with features of Inbox, Outbox and Folders, to an electronic
mail format. In 1981, this system was recognized by the Westinghouse
Science Talent Search receiving an Honors Award. Later, in 1982, the
US Copyright Office issued him the first copyright of his system
called â€œEMAILâ€. 
But he went ahead and copyrighted the term "EMAIL" and some how was
awarded the copyright.
Note that it says "copyright," not "trademark," so this isn't about the
term. The US Copyright Office doesn't care what you call things.
Good point, and at the time, the cheapest non-patented method (which
was a high hurdle with just software) was to do a official copyright
registration which requires the first and last 100 lines of code of
your software to be filed at the copyright office.
But it it seems to be a confusion that the registered term "EMAIL"
which erroneously implies an all encompassing "electronic mail" which
clearly he has no rights too.
Presumably he registered a copyright on the source code of his system,
which happened to be called EMAIL.
Right, and if I recall, the requirements was to provide the first and
last 100 lines of code ( I feel I am correct about that). But short of
doing this, the alternative was a Trade Secret registration.
You can pay the US Copyright Office for a registered copyright on any creative work
you want provided you fill out the right forms.
I think I understand your point, but I tend to feel at the time (the
80s) there was more due diligence at the USPTO and that was one of the
growing problems when cost cutting efforts began, including the brain
drain (no expertise to do the reviews).
It doesn't imply any approval or legal recognition;
it's just helpful if you ever have to sue someone later over the
copyright, since it means that there's an independent legal record of the
date and the original creative material on file.
+1. By law, the mere act of just WRITING is copyrighted material,
i.e. this post is an official copyrighted message <g> but when there
are challenges, an official registration is the only and clear way to
get over challenges.