Mexican Standoff

Refers to a situation where a pair of gunmen face one another with guns drawn, cocked and loaded – if one shoots the other will too and both will die or be wounded. Sometimes used to describe a Sleeping Dog License or Tacit License between two substantial intellectual property holders.

Although it became used to refer to a movie plot device, the apparent origin of the cliché is a popular, perhaps apocryphal, Mexican story involving two wealthy and powerful persons’ carriages which, from opposite ends, entered a narrow street through which only one carriage could pass. Convinced that to concede the right-of-way to the other would mean a loss of face and status, the owner of each carriage refused to give way for days, sending servants for food, drink and bedpans; after a period of time the situation became ludicrous and both carriage owners made such fools of themselves, that both had lost status and face.

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