Hormel Foods Corp., creator of the canned luncheon meat SPAM, is legally challenging the trademark use of the word “spam” for another firm’s software products.

SpamArrest LLC, which makes software “designed to eliminate unsolicited commercial electronic mail,” (UCE) was granted a trademark in early 2002 for the use of the name “Spam Arrest” for its products. Hormel is challenging that trademark as well as a second application for an online computer services trademark, which hasn’t been granted yet.

SpamArrest’s president and CEO Brian Cartmell thinks the claims are rubbish. “Hormel is acting like a corporate crybaby and ought to can it,” he said in a statement. He pointed to Hormel’s admission on its own Web site that it doesn’t oppose other companies using this term to describe junk e-mail. Instead, it has problems with the association of the pork product image with e-mail spam.

However, Hormel’s Web statement also includes objection to the use of the word “spam” as a trademark. “Children will be exposed to the slang term ‘spam’ to describe UCE well before being exposed to our famous product SPAM,” the statement said. “Ultimately, we are trying to avoid the day when the consuming public asks, ‘Why would Hormel Foods name its product after junk e-mail?'”

Cartmell countered: “Dozens of companies use the world ‘spam’ in their legal and commercial names, and no one confuses any of us with the Hormel canned meat product.”

Meanwhile, spammers around the world are reportedly coordinating their most aggressive junk e-mail blitz ever – which includes a coupon for $1 off canned meat products at any participating grocery store.