Reader engagement is a wonderful thing that I cherish and try to be receptive to. A recent blog post that only got an average level of traffic (http://www.fosspatents.com/2021/12/open-ran-patent-pool-named-alium.html)--substantially less than my subsequent story on Sisvel v. Ford and the previous one on Apple's strike against the credibility of the Epic-led Coalition for App Fairness--drew reactions from readers representing the entire spectrum of opinions concerning O-RAN's outlook. Two sentences triggered it all:
I have no idea why they chose the Latin word for garlic as the name for a telecommunications patent pool. If the pool smells from anything, it's from the apparent agenda of high-volume implementers seeking to devalue patents.
Now some readers said I got this wrong because "allium" with a double L is the Lain word for garlic. No, I was right.
The answer is that the original Latin word is "alium" with only a single L, and that was the correct spelling for several centuries until a second L got inserted about 2,000 years ago.
Here are some sources that vindicate what I wrote:
Etymological Dictionary of Latin and the other Italic Languages (Michiel de Vaan): "alium . . . allium in ins criptions from the 1st century AD onwards"
Mobot.org, A Grammatical Dictionary of Botanical Latin: "Garlic: . . . (also alium,-ii)"
Wiktionary entry for "alium": "Alternative forms - allium (from 1st century CE)"
Translate-Latin.com finds two translations for "galic": "alium" and "allium"
There also is a Wikipedia entry for an ancient city named "Alium" as the Latin translation of the Greek name "Alion." Even Wikipedia doesn't have much to say about that city other than it got mentioned in a couple of historical documents. Since it was a Greek city, the endonym is Alion, and Alium is merely an exonym that happens to be a homonym of "garlic." Place names can have funny meanings, which is why a certain Upper Austrian town was renamed "Fugging" earlier this year, greatly reducing the number of selfies taken before the place name sign.
I don't know why the patent pool was named "garlic" in Latin: maybe its founders didn't care to perform some due diligence on the chosen name (LMGTFY), which is not as critical as technical essentiality checks, or there is a hidden meaning there and they like spaghetti aglio e olio or they'll eventually relocate to Gilroy, CA, the Garlic Capital of the World where they even serve garlic ice cream--which is presumably not protected by a manufacturing patent licensed by MPEG LA or challenged by Unified Patents before the PTAB.
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