SparkFun gets a cease and Desist

CandD

[Nate] over at SparkFun Electronics has posted a cease and desist letter he received from SPARC industries.  Apparently their legal department feels that his name is close enough to theirs to ignite a legal battle. They are demanding that he transfer his domain to them immediately to extinguish the flames. This all seems a bit silly, his name isn’t really at all like theirs and his product isn’t similar either.  To add to the peculiarity of this, going to their site throws up a big red malware warning for us (in chrome).

[thanks IraqiGeek]

Comments

  1. xrazorwirex says:

    IP laws are bullshit. You can find something in common with about everything, to say you were completely original and unrelated to any other idea is asinine and a lie.

    As long as they aren’t committing direct fraud then there’s no problem; leave people the fuck alone.

  2. Concino says:

    From: Larry DBag Gates, representing ADAY industries
    To: HACKADAY
    Re: Cease-and-desist order

    It came to our attention that you are using ADAY in your name. Shame on you! We have countless free hours every day here at ADAY Industries, so we’ve decided to send you this letter. Clearly WE ARE > you, as we have “Industries” in our name and you don’t.

    Effective immediately, stop using ADAY in your name, or else! We mean it! Check out the exclamation marks!

    All your base is belong to us!

    Sincerely,
    ADAY Industries

  3. takato says:

    How about we show SPARC what happens when they mess with a community that has a very large percentage of programmers. Write scripts to mess with their servers. Something around the lines of filling in-boxes or repeatedly requesting pages. Before someone cries DDOS, yes this is DDOS; but when it’s investigated, the government is going to wonder why 500K (random stab at the size of this community) people are willingly (not a botnet) participating in the attack.

  4. 24601 says:

    @takato: someone already has, just check out the google attack site report about it.

  5. nitroburn says:

    This web site at http://www.sparc.org has been reported as an attack site and has been blocked based on your security preferences.

    LOL.

  6. FDP says:

    Here’s an idea… I am a SparkFun Customer, as well as a (past) user of SPARC based computing products. It has never occurred to me in all the time I have known about both companies that they were at all related. I personally am willing to sign a legal document stating this fact, perhaps if any others around here feel the same way they would as well.

    A great deal of this trademark crap is about “reasonable” confusion over the name, which this, in my opinion, clearly is not.

  7. st2000 says:

    Lots of post… did I miss something???

    This company w/a “sparc.org” domain probably wants something that ends in “.com”. They turned their lawyers on anything they could find.

    Wait a minute, “sparc.org” is a non-profit?!? How can a non-profit afford lawyers? I’m not getting this at all. What is in it for “sparc.org” if “sparkfun.com” changed their name? There has to be some hidden agendas. That or the people over at “sparc.org” have nothing to do and are trying to justify their jobs … that must be it!

    BTW, http://www.si.com was an Military/Aviation company in MI called Smith Industries (now part of General Electric). I understand Sports Illustrated did the “civil thing” and purchased http://www.si.com. Unlike these sparc.org lawyer pig types – oink oink.

  8. evan says:

    I’m going to support the SparkFun legal fund by buying some of their awesome gear.

  9. FDP says:

    I sent the following to SparkFun, if anyone feels the same way, what harm is there in sending your own statement? If a reasonable portion of their customer base was not convinced by the trademark argument (is anyone here?) I could see that being helpful.

    “I am writing to inform you that I have never at any point believed there was any association between SparkFun Inc and SPARC. I have known the SPARC brand name for many years, and the SparkFun name for several years, am a potential client of both parties, and have not personally associated the brand names. I am capable of discerning the difference between the acronym SPARC (which is a nonsense word in my language) and the actual phrase SparkFun, which I have always assumed to be a reference to an electric spark, and the enjoyment of tinkering with electronics.

    I am willing to submit the above statement as written testimony for use in a court of law. Please contact me if you would like a signed copy by fax or mail.

    Sincerely,
    x”

  10. EvilEngineer says:

    The rule for bad and crappy companies… when profits drop (or were never there to begin with)… litigate!

  11. burnsy says:

    But guys!

    Evil, evil Sparkfun are only the tip of the iceberg!

    There are National PARCS all over the place, trying to cash in on Sun Microsystems’ good name to sell their trees.

  12. Ben says:

    Dear Mr. Prometheus,
    It has come to our attention that you currently claim to have stolen fire from the gods. you should be aware that SPARC international owns both the name and the patent on sparks. Please desist from producing all derivative works, including but not limited to cigarette lighters, fires, turbo boosts on mariokart for the wii, and the holocaust. Thank you for your kind attention.

  13. GCL says:

    Hello!
    I agree with nearly all of you. I have one of the things here, I have several examples of Sparkfun’s excellent hardware here as well.

    SPARC’s lawyers should all be given a sack because of their extreme stupidity. Is it possible they are on the list of people to be sacked because of the mayhem going on at Sun because of the Ellison stupidity? It’s not going over at the EU……

  14. Ethan says:

    Wow… that’s ridiculous.
    I went there and got an absurd warning. Give them all domain? Really?
    SparkFun ftw

  15. M4CGYV3R says:

    They should give them sparkfun.com like they asked…then go buy and use SPARK.com :P

  16. _matt says:

    Dear SPARC,
    AHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH

    Sincerely, Matt

    Disclaimer: I am not or ever have been a representative of SparkFun, and any and all opinions in this post are of me solely and do not represent the opinions of SparkFun as a whole.

  17. _matt says:

    That should probably be “may not” instead of “do not”. I’m not good with legal BSing.

  18. Kristoffer says:

    Damn those silly gooses at SparkFun had it coming! :D
    No not rly, this is all just American stupidity taking It’s place, since no person with logic would make this thing go through It’s a safe bet.

    Oh wait… This is an American thing, nevermind the logic part.. Srsly, do something, stand up for yourself sparkfun!

  19. darkshadow6921 says:

    I am surprised that the lawyer who is pursuing this did not send it written in crayola.

    I wonder if they even looked past the company name and at the products, or if maybe they are secretly wishing to add Fun to their future products.

  20. Gabriel says:

    Next they’ll go after every automotive company for using “SparkPlugs” in their products…

  21. amk says:

    Judging by the amount of scrolling I had to do to type this comment, I’d say someone messed with the wrong crowd. And there will be no lawsuit. I’m sure everyone with a popular website that rhymes with “sparc” has or will be receiving a similar letter. They’re looking for an easy kill. This is how in-house lawyers justify their existence when things are slow.

  22. sean says:

    Trademark trolling SparkFun which has nothing to do with SPARC, an acronym and trademark for past due and dated computer architecture from Sun Microsystems is supported by a website that is listed by Google as being ruinous to my computer’s health.

    You really know and support your technology, eh? Can’t even run a website. Don’t know that SparkFun, while a source for educational electronics components, doesn’t produce anything based on SPARC architechure, technology or byproducts thereof.

    Your claim is laughable as SparkFun is as closely aligned to your business claims as marine SPAR Varnish. Only an incompetent would be misled after touring SparkFun’s website and then attempting to fight off a computer viral infection after trying to view yours.

    For your perusal so you may call in your lax IT department on Monday morning and see if they can disinfect your website…

    Safe Browsing
    Diagnostic page for sparc.org

    What is the current listing status for sparc.org?

    Site is listed as suspicious – visiting this web site may harm your computer.

    Part of this site was listed for suspicious activity 9 time(s) over the past 90 days.

    What happened when Google visited this site?

    Of the 244 pages we tested on the site over the past 90 days, 3 page(s) resulted in malicious software being downloaded and installed without user consent. The last time Google visited this site was on 2009-10-22, and the last time suspicious content was found on this site was on 2009-10-22.

    Malicious software includes 12 trojan(s), 8 exploit(s), 6 scripting exploit(s). Successful infection resulted in an average of 2 new process(es) on the target machine.

    Malicious software is hosted on 6 domain(s), including keymydomains.com/, ncenterpanel.cn/, updatedate.cn/.

    2 domain(s) appear to be functioning as intermediaries for distributing malware to visitors of this site, including keymydomains.com/, specialgt.com/.

    This site was hosted on 1 network(s) including AS21844 (THEPLANET).

    Has this site acted as an intermediary resulting in further distribution of malware?

    Over the past 90 days, sparc.org did not appear to function as an intermediary for the infection of any sites.

    Has this site hosted malware?

    No, this site has not hosted malicious software over the past 90 days.

    How did this happen?

    In some cases, third parties can add malicious code to legitimate sites, which would cause us to show the warning message.

    Next steps:

    Return to the previous page.
    * If you are the owner of this web site, you can request a review of your site using Google Webmaster Tools. More information about the review process is available in Google’s Webmaster Help Center.

  23. Drone says:

    @tejon, you said, “The attorneys are doing what they have to do, and are only doing their job.”

    Yeah, and if someone pays me to knee-cap little old ladies or sell drugs to children I’ll just do it; I’m only doing my job… Jerk – wake up!

  24. Mohamed says:

    This is just absurd ! What are they trying to get at ? Are they jealous of sparkfun.com’s success ? What is it really ? And whilst they at it why not sue the following sites http://www.sparkenergy.co.uk/ , http://spark.com/ , http://www.sparc.ac.uk/ , http://www.sparc.org.nz/ , http://www.sparkelectronics.co.uk/ . If your going to act silly why not go all the way?

    I for one can definitely distinguish “spark” from “sparc” . Look up the definition of “spark” please.

  25. Ayush says:

    One word:

    BULLSHIT

  26. Rollyn01 says:

    And how is SPARC and Spark….. Know what? You guys with the funny, I-toss-salad-for-a-living, slack-jaw looking faces calling yourself lawyers need to stfu. /endrant

  27. St.Jimmy says:

    oh how the mighty have fallen. sparc used to be the shit of the computer/server world. now they are megadouches.

  28. Carl says:

    Legally speaking Sparc and Spark are different
    both Yahoo and Google blocks it for me
    run a scan on the site :
    Malicious software includes 8 trojan(s), 6 exploit(s), 4 scripting exploit(s).

    Malicious software is hosted on 5 domain(s), including keymydomains.com/, ncenterpanel.cn/, updatedate.cn/.

    1 domain(s) appear to be functioning as intermediaries for distributing malware to visitors of this site, including keymydomains.com/.

    This site was hosted on 1 network(s) including AS21844 (THEPLANET).

  29. Alan says:

    K != C.

    Idiots.

  30. hackbench says:

    is it april 1 already?

  31. Berslan says:

    Has anyone checked their trademarks? they even have “SPARCplug”. And they are talking about rights and infringement.

  32. Berslan says:

    I am bot sure if this is ethically correct for me to suggest such a thing but, I am thinking about leaving some comments on their contact mail address as written on their contact page “sparcinfo AT sparc.org”. Do not get me wrong; I am just talking about a few sentences, asking them to come to their senses, and be logical.

  33. jeffreeey says:

    maybe its an a Halloween prank?! Anything else just does not make sense

  34. sigtermer says:

    “finally, a post that qualifies as a hack.

    the legal system was intended for one use, and now its being twisted and used for something else. ”

    +1

  35. Legend says:

    Lawyers and these patent/trademark wh0re companies suc#. I have a friend that was driven out of business: He was producing a superior and innovative product, yet because a stinking competitor with lots of lawyers has managed to patent the shape of a cylinder of a certain size and use, he was unable to continue manufacturing and marketing. Since when is a geometric shape of long standing patentable???? I dunno, but it would cost millions to fight it.

  36. Rob says:

    SPARC = Scalable Processor ARChitecture : A trademark of SUN MICROSYSTEMS.
    Not owned by sparc.org !!!
    Also, I would read SparkFun as having fun with electricity (sparks)… Wait for the court to decide.. LOL Should be more sparks flying there !!

  37. Rob says:

    I believe Apple Records tried this scam too when Apple started selling music through iTunes.
    They are on to a non starter.

  38. Rob says:

    Some one missed out at the ‘Big Bang’ how the hell did the lawyers miss that one? – They created the biggest object in our solar system and somehow forgot to register the name as a trademark. Now some other blood sucking leach has it :-(

  39. XD says:

    wtf… I liek SparkFun
    Go away SPARC…Dieeeeee

  40. thecityspiders says:

    FAIL!!!
    complete failure to present a valid body of evidence.
    Furthermore I have yet to see how SparkFun even remotely takes away business from a trademark that has been copied by non-profits and the like.
    seriously if this even makes it to court,there is some major logistical oversights involved.
    And as many other posts have presented SPARC does not = SPARKFUN!!!The malware present apon entering
    http://www.sparc.org is evidence of how commited folks are to SparkFun.

    Meeting adjourned
    ##END##

  41. teck monkey says:

    oie…i think if we all(the loyal readers of hackaday and supporters of SparkFun) went to a diploma mill and got nice fancy cracker jack law degree we coud scare the absolute shit out of SPARC >:)…think of the hell 80+ pro-boneo lawyers/hackers could do to SPARC and other guttless POS coprate scum

  42. Flixssoft says:

    What a Pile of crap, funnist thing i ever read in a long time. I hope SparkFun fights this Full tooth and nail.

  43. nave.notnilc says:

    @ Rob
    the difference is that Apple Computers had made a deal with Apple Records previously to not go into music.

  44. Kenny G says:

    SUN should go after Sunkist.

  45. J says:

    This was my letter to them:

    You guys are ridiculous and must be desperate to attempt this. I hope you guys lose all of your funding for bullying an electronic hobby website to steal their name. Their business is completely unrelated to yours! They sell affordable hobbyist equipment for people to use and expand their creativity and skills in electronics, while you guys sell ridiculously overpriced crap servers that require insane amounts of expensive maintenance and giant buildings to house these huge ugly boxes that do nothing more than an expensive desktop that is a tenth the size and price. Your domain is not keeping you from customers. It is your lack of conforming to what your customers want and your lack of conforming to the economic requirements of the day. Please go Fuck yourself!

  46. Jeff Ledger says:

    I’m not sure to chalk this story up to a CLUELESS legal department or a DOUCHEBAG company. Either way, this is a PR disaster for them. They need to publically retract this with apology as fast as possible.

  47. Jeff Ledger says:

    You guys have a PR nightmare brewing this weekend!

    As a consumer of both SPARC products and SPARKFUN products I am more than capable of knowing the
    difference between the two. You are giving the appearance of a giant corporation going after a small business
    just for the purposes of quick buck. I’d be willing to bet that your legal department was initially clueless to
    the situation when the “cease and desist” letter was sent to SparkFUN electronics, but you are costing yourself
    more in bad press than this is worth.

    Here’s a few links to some of the pages this story has caught attention.
    These feeds and pages are read by thousands of technology minded, thinking individuals who
    also clearly understand what your legal department could not.

    http://hackaday.com/2009/10/23/sparkfun-gets-a-cease-and-desist/comment-page-4/#comment-103773

    http://blog.makezine.com/archive/2009/10/sparc_international_vs_sparkfun_ele.html

    http://yro.slashdot.org/story/09/10/23/197214/Sparc-Sends-SparkFun-Electronics-CampD-Letter?from=rss

    http://article.feeds4all.nl/SPARC-International-vs-SparkFun-electronic/1719492842.aspx

    It’s time to quickly retract publicly and apologize.

    Sincerely,
    x

  48. sean says:

    Trademark Trolling means we’re circling the drain

    Just like urban areas have to deal with a problem called urban blight, we are seeing that Silicon Valley is dealing, or rather in this case creating a problem called Silicon Blight.

    SPARC International and by association, SUN Microsystems are attacking their future by embroiling a source (SparkFun Electronics) for
    electronics components and educational information for our future electronics technicians, engineers, firmware programmers and robotics specialists.

    The spurious attempt by SPARC International to fraudulently steal SparkFun Electronics domain name sends the message to these future workers that we are living in the United States of America, the land of NO OPPORTUNITY, NO FUTURE, and NO JUSTICE. You are sending the message
    that the best route to getting tech jobs would be to find an H1B Visa holder, get very friendly and attempt to emigrate for a tech internship overseas.

    SUN Microsystems customers tend to be pretty well educated, it takes a little higher level of knowledge to implement your equipment. We know
    that SPARC is an architecture used in a big, really expensive box that truthfully can be replaced today by a few high end Intel products with more readily available replacement parts and an operating system that tends to have more people familiar with its setup and operation and are dealing with management who wants to cut costs.

    We probably also are people who waste our off hours tinkering with electronics projects, building autonomous robots, goofing around with
    microprocessors and interesting ways of monitoring our house pets over the internet while we are maintaining your SUN Microsystems computers
    which don’t do a very good job of implementing all these Rube Goldberg like inventions. For parts to create these products, we depend on SparkFun Electronics.

    I don’t see SUN Microsystems or SPARC International stepping up to the plate in my lifetime to become an equivalent of DigiKey or Mouser (SparkFun’s actual type of business). I don’t see putting an array of ARM, ATMega, PIC and other microcontrollers together using flash cards for memory with GPS input, two axis gyro, servo and gear motor outputs to create a SPARC architecture based server system.

    Your feeling an economic pinch, deciding to set a bunch of lawyers after an electronics components supplier and electronics technology educator instead of a true competitor screams of desperation on a massive scale.
    If you win, your name is basically synonymous with all that’s going wrong in the US tech sector. just by having the letter sent out, SUN
    Microsystems and SPARK International have done themselves damage.

    SPARC is an acronym denoting a computer architecture.

    SparkFun is a company that provides components that will not be used in a SPARC architecture computer system and your attack will through their
    educational channels, send the message to young electronics enthusiasts that US technology employers like SUN Microsystems don’t want them.

  49. Marco says:

    Best to ignore that letter and do not respond on it. Every email you send them will be added to their list for sending spam to.

    A host (sparc.org) with several other hosts on the same network that feeds it mall-ware seems to be put there on purpose.

    The architecture of the SPARC CPU is open-source, but trademark is owned by Sun Microsystems; not SPARC International Inc. Because of this construction it’s unlikely that Sun Microsystems will ever sue somebody for using the SPARC name or a name that sounds the same.

    That Cease and Desist letter is a scam.

    Sun Microsystems should sue “SPARC International Inc.” (if they exist) and/or the ones responsible for both the Cease and Desist letter and the domain sparc.org because they harm the reputation of Sun Microsystems.

  50. Josh says:

    I was going to say the exact same thing as Marco. It has to be a scam or phishing expedition. The fact that there was no information on how to transfer the domain is one clue.
    I will disagree halfway with Marco, though. Never ignore a letter from a lawyer. We had this happen with our company a while back when we broke ties with a company we distributed parts for. We had parts that we bought from them in our stock to sell to our customers. They tried to sue us because we were selling parts with their brand name on it, which are normally available only through distributors. They were trying to sue us on many points, including copyright infringement because the instruction sheets in the kits had their logo. That’s like a Chevy dealer selling a Ford car and being sued because the original owner’s manual came with it.
    If we hasn’t responded, we would have had to go through court instead of a mediator.

    @You guys who are sending emails using foul language and name-calling: Don’t you realize that lawyers don’t have the time or inclination to respond to such letters? They just get put in the trash bin and not taken seriously (much like the drunk redneck on Youtube spouting his whargrbl).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 97,539 other followers