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Python Trademark At Risk In Europe 122

Posted by Soulskill
from the from-community-import-firepower dept.
mvar writes "A company in the UK is trying to trademark the 'Python' term for all things computing. The Python Software Foundation is asking for help. According to the PSF, they contacted the company in order to settle the matter but 'They blew us off and responded by filing the community trademark application claiming the exclusive right to use "Python" for software, servers, and web services — everywhere in Europe.' They now seek help from the community in several ways: By sending a letter to the EU council if you happen to work on a company that uses the Python programming language, by providing EU-published material regarding the Python language (articles etc) and/or financially supporting the PSF in the upcoming legal battle."
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Python Trademark At Risk In Europe

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  • Obligatory (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 15, 2013 @11:14AM (#42910381)

    "And now for something completely old and similar."

  • by CajunArson (465943) on Friday February 15, 2013 @11:14AM (#42910389) Journal

    At least in the U.S., trademarks come into existence by use in commerce. Registering a trademark is a good idea, but not even a requirement (which is why you see (TM) for non-registered trademarks and (R) for registered marks).

    Assuming that the Python programming language and other related marks have been used in commerce *before* this other Python outfit showed up, then they don't have to worry about losing their rights to the name. Unless Europe allows for hijacking of marks simply through registration, I don't see what the Python guys should have to worry about (unless the other "python" company was using that mark in commerce before the real Python guys were).

    Notice how confusing it is to name things above because of the conflicting "Python" mark? That's why there are trademarks, because if you have these name collisions it becomes difficult to accurately identify the source of the good or service.

    • I don't see what the Python guys should have to worry about (unless the other "python" company was using that mark in commerce before the real Python guys were).

      Question: How much will it cost to oppose the mark? You have to remember this is a non-profit org, this situation is still in the early stages so it may be possible to prevent this from reaching the courts. This assumes someone reasonable at the trademark office....... *thinks about what goes on in the US patent & trademark office*. Oh god they are screwed...

      • by Threni (635302)

        What if they ignore this problem and get sued but have no money so don't pay anything and then contiune to ignore the problem?

        • by Jason Levine (196982) on Friday February 15, 2013 @11:54AM (#42910979)

          If you get sued and ignore the lawsuit, you will have a judgement issued against you. It won't be a fair one, either, because the other side will give their side of the story and you'll be seen as the type of person/group that ignores lawsuits. (Not looked favorably upon by judges.)

          If you ignore the judgement and just continue on, you risk further injunction by the court including jail time for contempt.

          Ignoring lawsuits is bad. Ignoring judgments from lawsuits is even worse.

      • It cost as much as gathering together a sheaf of prior usage examples, preferably original documents or photocopies of dead tree press, details of registration of any companies using the mark, a few letters from organisations already legitimately using the mark, sticking them in a big envelope along with a letter saying which application you are objecting to and why, and sending it to the right place. The last time I did this, it was free. You don't even need a lawyer: IT people can usually figure out forms
    • Assuming that the Python programming language and other related marks have been used in commerce *before* this other Python outfit showed up, then they don't have to worry about losing their rights to the name.

      This is generally, but not alway, true. There have been instances of trademarks issued despite widespread prior use. The most egregious example was when Microsoft was given a trademark on "Windows" despite the fact that many others, including The X Window System [wikipedia.org] and W [wikipedia.org], had used it years before, and it was a common term in the industry to refer to a retangular region of a computer display as a "window".

    • Just oppose the mark.. and Python was First

      Actually, in the area of programming languages, Python the language was second. Before Python the language, Python was an implementation of Common Lisp. (It's still around, inside CMUCL and SBCL and their derivatives.)

    • I was thinking the same thing. It's like the concept of 'prior art', the legal system should just laugh at these clowns for trying to register something that's been used by someone else for the past 22 years worldwide. The way I see it, this company trying to do this to PSF, is akin to a patent troll.
    • by kdemetter (965669)

      Reading the article, it seems that the other company did use the name 'python' before, but didn't enforce it, and now suddenly wants to make us of it ( after not caring for it for years ).

      If I understand trademark law correctly ( maybe I don't ) , if you do not enforce a trademark, you forfeit your exclusive use of it.
      The company didn't enforce their trademark ( they didn't contact the creators of Python back then to tell them they violated their trademark ).

      They should contact EFF, I'm sure they would be m

  • by Phrogman (80473) on Friday February 15, 2013 @11:20AM (#42910483) Homepage

    (In Europe only mind you) to NameRippedOffByTheFuckingCocksuckersAtPythonComputerServices or whatever :P

  • Easily resolved (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Shemmie (909181) on Friday February 15, 2013 @11:21AM (#42910489)

    Everyone hits social media, hard - their name won't be worth toffee in the tech world. Which is ironically who they are trying to sell to.

    Make it clear you wouldn't do business with them - and wait until they relent.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      They are not trying to sell to you or me. They are trying to sell to our bosses & our bosses bosses. How often do they consult with us prior to purchase? Other than MAYBE to casually ask our opinion about "Python"

      • by Anonymous Coward

        They consult with us all the time. You should find a new job.

  • by optikos (1187213) on Friday February 15, 2013 @11:26AM (#42910563)
    Why did the Python community drag its feet for so long on officially registering its brand-name? For the cost of approximately one hour's of lawyer's time, the low trade-mark fees 8 years ago would have been the cheapest solution to this situation. Now many many hours of lawyers' time will need to be expended to rectify the situation.
    • by tuffy (10202)
      The Python trademark was registered some time ago in the US [python.org] but it's unclear why the Python Software Foundation didn't do the same in the EU.
      • Years ago, the Python community should have paid the fees for the Madrid-System extension of the U.S. trademark registration to various other nations.
      • by lxs (131946)

        I'm guessing that they'd have to register it separately in all member states.

      • by unixisc (2429386)
        Couldn't they have done it in the WTO and made it applicable worldwide?
      • Or with the still relatively few supranational bodies that do this, such as the EU. But a trademark must still be registered dozens of times all over the world, and that makes the process way messier. Of course, there are many Pythonists in the EU, and it would have had sense, but then again... It is most probably not registered in my country, or anywhere else in Latin America. Is it worth, as a previous post mentions, to pay for "an hour worth of lawyer fees" (plus the registration fee) over and over? How

        • by Darinbob (1142669)

          And who does it? Who "owns" Python and who would spend the actual time and money to do so? Without a corporate backer a lot of this gets overlooked or is too time consuming to handle. People working on open source projects prefer to work on the code usually.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      In other words, if they would have just paid the protection fee, they wouldn't have to have their fingers broken. Now its too late.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      That is not entirely correct:
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linux#Copyright.2C_trademark.2C_and_naming

      "In the United States, the name Linux is a trademark registered to Linus Torvalds.[5] Initially, nobody registered it, but on 15 August 1994, William R. Della Croce, Jr. filed for the trademark Linux, and then demanded royalties from Linux distributors. In 1996, Torvalds and some affected organizations sued him to have the trademark assigned to Torvalds, and in 1997 the case was settled.[114]"

      In fact, the abo

      • That is not entirely correct:
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linux#Copyright.2C_trademark.2C_and_naming [wikipedia.org]

        "In the United States, the name Linux is a trademark registered to Linus Torvalds.[5] Initially, nobody registered it, but on 15 August 1994, William R. Della Croce, Jr. filed for the trademark Linux, and then demanded royalties from Linux distributors. In 1996, Torvalds and some affected organizations sued him to have the trademark assigned to Torvalds, and in 1997 the case was settled.[114]"

        In fact, the above is the first thing that came to my mind when I read the summary.

        I hope that the settlement afterward included representatives from the likes of Redhat, Debian, SuSe, Slackware, and whatever other distros existed back then holding an ass kicking party with Croce as the guest of honor.

  • by lkcl (517947) <lkcl@lkcl.net> on Friday February 15, 2013 @11:32AM (#42910663) Homepage

    how about all of us calling this company up, several times a day, and *politely* telling them what we think? the sheer number of calls would, just from them having to answer the phone, cause them to lose money, as well as make it clear that we're not impressed.

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      how about all of us calling this company up, several times a day, and *politely* telling them what we think? the sheer number of calls would, just from them having to answer the phone, cause them to lose money, as well as make it clear that we're not impressed.

      just ask them if they offer django on their cheap ass virtual servers... and if they do, ask them about python version.

  • by Alain Williams (2972) <addw@phcomp.co.uk> on Friday February 15, 2013 @11:35AM (#42910709) Homepage

    Name & shame them!

    • by SilenceBE (1439827) on Friday February 15, 2013 @11:42AM (#42910821)
      http://www.veber.co.uk/ [veber.co.uk] & pobox.co.uk [slashdot.org]

      This hasn't been an issue since then because the python.co.uk domain has, for most of its life, just forwarded its traffic on to the parent companies, veber.co.uk and pobox.co.uk. Unfortunately, Veber has decided that they want to start using the name "Python" for their server products.

      Seems like a cheap way to abuse the popularity of python to try to sell their own products. This is a company that I surely will ignore if they come in my path, don't like that kind of shenanigans.
      • by happy_place (632005) on Friday February 15, 2013 @12:26PM (#42911381) Homepage

        This company sounds absolutely reptillian in their nature. Like some massive hungry slithering bottom-dwelling reptile that strikes out at any warm-blooded thing that's good, and wraps itself around it for its own selfish enrichment, squeezing the life out of its prey. Dunno why they'd want to be named Python, it's a lovely language... and friendly... unless you don't like indenting.
         

    • From TFA (ignore my sig this time around...):

      "Specifically, it is the company that got a hold on the python.co.uk domain 13 years ago. At that time we weren't looking a lot at trademark issues, and so we didn't get that domain."

    • by Khyber (864651)

      veber.co.uk

        pobox.co.uk

      If you couldn't be bothered to RTFA just two fucking paragraphs in, I have serious doubts whether posting this information will get you to do anything or not. You seem too lazy to be much more than a REMF armchair quarterback.

  • by tlambert (566799) on Friday February 15, 2013 @11:40AM (#42910799)

    It's protected in the UK under Common Law: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passing_off [wikipedia.org] , and therefore in the entire EU, due to treaty: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trade_mark_law_of_the_European_Union [wikipedia.org]

    Is this "story" to try and get money for an hour worth of lawyer time, or just publicity for Python itself, since people are starting to not care about it that much, and they want more developers?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The 'passing off' tort doesn't apply in this situation, unfortunately. Now, if the European crowd were pushing their own Python programming language, or in some way trying to trade off PSF's brand, then yes, it would.

      However, no 'passing off' is occurring in this situation - that the European company is attempting to register the name for its own use means that tort does not apply.

      captcha: communal

      • by tlambert (566799)

        The 'passing off' tort doesn't apply in this situation, unfortunately. Now, if the European crowd were pushing their own Python programming language, or in some way trying to trade off PSF's brand, then yes, it would.

        However, no 'passing off' is occurring in this situation - that the European company is attempting to register the name for its own use means that tort does not apply.

        captcha: communal

        I believe the broad scope of the application would also apply to a computer language named 'Python' by the company. This makes it appear that 'Python' the language is their own.

        So basically they would be "passing off" the Open Source project as their work. According to my reading of the PDF of the law, this appears to meant it applies.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    What did the company do that is wrong? They had the domain registered for years, why shouldn't they be allowed to make python servers? It's not like anyone who isn't an idiot would confuse python-server-hardware with python-programming-language.

    Is there some back story somewhere that show the company acting dickish? When I saw the headline I was ready to grab my pitchfork (even though I'm a Ruby guy), but the "plea for help" doesn't justify any anger.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      > exclusive right to use "Python" for software, servers, and web services

      There's at least two idiots who couldn't even read TFS, you and someone who modded you up. Really, you don't see how Python-programming-language and any Python-based project with Pythonin the name can infringe on Python-software or Python-web-services trademark?

    • by Half-pint HAL (718102) on Friday February 15, 2013 @01:53PM (#42912667)

      They had the domain registered for years, why shouldn't they be allowed to make python servers? It's not like anyone who isn't an idiot would confuse python-server-hardware with python-programming-language.

      Google Python webserver. Then think about what you've just said....

  • by mrpacmanjel (38218) on Friday February 15, 2013 @11:45AM (#42910855)

    So let me get this straight:

    A UK-based ISP/Cloud services company offers Linux/Windows based Cloud Servers and they think it's a good idea to name the product range after a well-known programming language?

    It's a nice way to "gain the trust" of potential customers - "Yeah we're the guys that screwed over the Python community (we totally stressed them out and cost them major $ too) - buy our stuff you can trust us!"

    "btw, we off Linux installed on our servers too. Ironic don't you think?"

    No doubt this will gain a lot of negative publicity especially on sites like slashdot.org - you know the very people that know a lot about ISP/cloudy services!!!!!

    I'm getting some popcorn.

    • by Half-pint HAL (718102) on Friday February 15, 2013 @02:00PM (#42912781)

      It's also a good way to screw over your buyers.

      Yes, we promised you Python webservers, and we delivered your Python webservers as promised.

      No, of course you can't program them in Python. Python is an optional extra, not a standard component of a Python webserver. What you want is our PyPy webserver a totally unique and new trademarked name for our Python webserver running a Python webserver.

      No, Pypy doesn't run Pypy, just standard Python. If you want Pypy, you'll need to get PyPyPyPy, a Python webserver running the PyPy Python interpreter virtualised inside a Python session.

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      maybe the thought they'll get points from ms for doing this. though fat chance since ms has it's own cloud to sell.
      btw one thing they think that cloud isn't good for is "high volume data transfer scenarios.". they're selling people shit.

      you know what's REALLY shitty? you have to sign up(free, sort of, they'll want your cc number) to see what os's /configurations they offer! and I'll bet you ten bucks one of them includes something with a python interpreter!

    • Just like Microsoft trademarked Microsoft Windows instead of just Windows, perhaps this company should add a descriptive word before the Python name and trademark that instead. Porcelain Python perhaps?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    ....while using free software. From the footer on the front page of the pobox.co.uk [pobox.co.uk] website (operated by the company concerned, according to the article):

    Joomla! is Free Software released under the GNU/GPL License.

    Nice....

  • by Coisiche (2000870) on Friday February 15, 2013 @11:52AM (#42910963)

    I live in UK and the first association I make when encountering the word "python" is with Monty Python's Flying Circus. That would also be true of many people I know. Why would anyone want to use that as a trademark in this country when so many people will immediately think of a comedy team?

  • I never liked "Python" anyway. It's a great opportunity to find a new name. A better name! May I propose: Bieberconda?
  • We have based our economy on financial services rent seeking for years, its about the time we got international recognition in the IP trolling sector!

  • Unable to deliver your message. 553 Contact your postmaster/admin for assistance. Perhaps the PSF's Inbox is a little undersized...
  • by Anonymous Coward

    For the love of God, read the article!

    Veber were planning on naming their servers Python, and PSF CONTACTED THEM to make them stop. Veber RESPONDED by taking out the Trademark claim t DEFEND themselves.

    If PSF hadn't been so pissy about it, Veber wouldn't have had to lawyer up.

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