Much has been written by jurists about the strength of English common law; thanks to Britain's adventures in international flag-planting, it's the basis of the legal system of much of the Commonwealth, not to mention the United States (excepting Louisiana, because Napoleon). Across the centuries, they have praised its mercy, its reason, its heritage. I'm writing to praise a different aspect; its fundamental appreciation for the common or garden moron. A healthy amount of common law rests on the idea of the reasonable man - aside from validating the idea of juries, it's a useful test to ensure that everyone is held to the same, broadly common sense, standard. What I appreciate about the 'moron in a hurry' test is that it allows for the possibility that a reasonable man might also be a bit thick.
Essentially, this is a concept arising from intellectual property law, specifically dealing with things like trademark infringement. If I try to sell a product that's using someone else's trademark, or is otherwise disguised as someone else's product, they can, for obvious reasons, sue me. The law wants to disincentivise copying, and that's good. But enforce that too broadly and you'd end up with monopolies - for similarly obvious reasons, Coca-Cola probably shouldn't have grounds to sue Pepsi for selling a brown, sugary soft drink in a can. So there has to be a balance between protecting intellectual property and protecting healthy (or unhealthy, as it may be with our HFCS-ridden examples) competition. One of the tests used to strike that balance is based around the concept of 'a moron in a hurry'.
First coined by Foster J in 1978 or so, it originally came up when the Morning Star, a British communist paper usually sold by beardy types around stations, tried to prevent the launch of awful tits-and-football tabloid the Daily Star by means of legal action. The Morning Star lost that action, ultimately because
'...if one puts the two papers side by side I for myself would find that the two papers are so different in every way that only a moron in a hurry would be misled.'
Inadvertently creating something akin to a legal meme. Bear in mind that there isn't actually a formal basis for the 'moron in a hurry' coming into consideration in any given case of trademark infringement or passing off, but it's become a useful shorthand, the idea being that if you're anything less than a moron or not in a hurry, you can tell the difference such that no-one loses any goodwill from the process. No damage done, no case. In any case, despite the fact that it's not really anything more than a useful bit of description, it's been cited in a surprising number of cases. A moron in a hurry has been expected by judges not to be able to tell Swiss chocolate from Cadbury's, not to have his CV read, not to be able to tell the difference between brands of petrol, or indeed to be able to tell Apple the record label from Apple the computer company. It made its way to the Supreme Court of Canada, although Canadians' fundamental niceness wouldn't tolerate it and they ended up modifying it to 'ordinary hurried purchasers', which I think you'll agree doesn't have the same ring to it.
In any case, it's a somewhat obscure, but I think charming, piece of both lore and law. Maybe not as weird as the Carbolic Smoke Ball, but that's another node.