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Business Words in the News
Friday 06 September 2002
Vocabulary from the business news. Listen to and read the report then find explanations of difficult words below.

  vacuum cleaner
Siemens drops Nazi name
Summary: The German engineering giant Siemens has hastily abandoned plans to register the trademark "Zyklon" in the United States, because it is too close to Zyklon B - the poison gas used in Nazi extermination camps. This report from Tim Weber.
The News Listen  
  Zyklon is a harmless word in the German language - it means cyclone, powerful storms known as hurricanes in some regions. A year ago, Siemens filed two applications in the United States with the Patent and Trademark Office, to use the name Zyklon for a range of home products, from vacuum cleaners to home appliances such as gas ovens. Outside Germany, though, the word Zyklon is associated with only one thing - Zyklon B, the poison gas used during the Second World War to kill Jews and other prisoners in Nazi death camps such as Auschwitz and Mauthausen.

While Siemens may have chosen the name innocently, the move has been strongly condemned by Jewish organisations. Dr Shimon Samuels, head of the European arm of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Jewish human rights organisation, said Siemens should have known better. The company, Dr Samuels says, was directly complicit in the use of slave labour during Nazi times. He calls the trademark application a "major scandal".

The Siemens subsidiary behind the trademark application, Bosch Siemens Hausgeraete, made a quick about-turn when confronted with the news that the word Zyklon has a sinister ring in the English-speaking world. Bosch Siemens spokeswoman Eva Delabre said the company was very sorry if this trademark application had caused any offence. She said the company would now take the necessary steps to withdraw its trademark applications for the Zyklon brand.

But Siemens is not alone in getting it wrong. In August, UK sports goods maker Umbro apologised after complaints that it named one of its sports shoes Zyklon.

Tim Weber, BBC

The Words Listen
  filed two applications
if you file an application, you make an official request

a patent is the official right to be the only person or company to make or sell a new product

a trademark is a name or symbol that a company uses on its products and that cannot legally be used by another company

a range is a number of different things of the same general kind

  home appliances
devices or machines that do a particular job in your home

  complicit in
involved in an illegal activity

  trademark application
request to register the trademark

a company which is part of a larger company

  take the necessary steps
do what is needed

  not alone in getting it wrong
other companies have made similar mistakes

  Read more about this story  

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