Raspberry Pi And Raspberry Pi Spy: This Is How Trademark SNAFUs Should Be Handled

In the eight years or so since the Raspberry Pi first landed as tangible hardware, we’ve all dealt with the Pi folks whether as customers or through their many online support and outreach activities. They’ve provided our community with the seed that led to an explosion of inexpensive Linux-capable single board computers, while their own offerings have powered so many of the projects we have featured here. Their heart lies in their educational remit, but they have also become an indispensable part of our community.

The statement from the Pi Foundation’s Philip Colligan.

Thus it was a surprise when [Raspberry Pi Spy], a long-time commentator on all things Pi, received a legal notice from the Raspberry Pi Foundation that their use of the Raspberry Pi name contravened the acceptable use guidelines and demanding that all content be removed and the domains be handed over. Some consternation ensued, before Pi foundation boss [Philip Colligan] released a statement retracting the original letter and explaining that the incident was the result of an over-zealous legal adviser and that the Foundation has no wish to undermine the Pi community.

All’s well that ends well, but what just happened? In the first instance, it’s natural for any organisation to wish to protect their brand, and there would be plenty of unscrupulous entities ready to sell fake Pi products were the Foundation not active in asserting their rights. In this case it seems that it was the use of the full Raspberry Pi trademark in a domain name that triggered the letter and not the fair-use blogging about the Pi products. We can see that however much we might wish otherwise it was not without legal merit. There have been numerous cybersquatting cases heard since the creation of the Web, and even though some of them have been on more dubious ground than others it remains a well-trodden path.

Where this story differs from so many others though is that the Pi Foundation acted with common sense in withdrawing the notice issued against a member of its community. It is inevitable that sometimes even the best of us can take regrettable paths by whatever means, and respect is earned by how such situations are resolved. We applaud the Pi folks for their swift action in this matter, we’d suggest to anyone that they take care when registering domain names, and we suspect that somewhere a legal adviser will be in the doghouse. But that all such incidents in our community could be resolved with such ease.

Inventor Services – Maybe Right For You – Maybe

You’ve no doubt been exposed to the ads for various inventor services; you have an idea, and they want to help you commercialize it and get the money you deserve. Whether it’s helping you file legal paperwork, defending your idea, developing it into a product, or selling it, there’s a company out there that wants to help. So which ones are legit, which ones are scams, and what do you really need to make your millions?

Continue reading “Inventor Services – Maybe Right For You – Maybe”

What To Expect When You’re Expecting – A Trademark

A trademark represents a brand, so it can be words like “Apple”, including made up words like “Kleenex”. It can be symbols, like the Nike swoosh. It can also be colors, like UPS brown, and even scents like the flowery musk scent in Verizon stores. Filing a trademark in the United States is surprisingly easy. With a couple hundred dollars and a couple hours, you can be well on your way to having your very own registered trademark and having the right to use the ® symbol on your mark. You don’t need a lawyer, but you should know some of the hangups you might run into. The USPTO has a fantastic primer on trademarks, but we’ll TL;DR it for you. Continue reading “What To Expect When You’re Expecting – A Trademark”

Hackaday Links: April 23, 2017

‘Member StarCraft? Ooooh, I ‘member StarCraft. The original game and the Brood War expansion are now free. A new patch fixes most of the problems of getting a 20-year-old game working and vastly improves playing over LAN (‘member when you could play video games over a LAN?) And you thought you were going to have free time this week.

About a year ago, [Mark Chepurny] built a dust boot for his Shapeoko CNC router. The SuckIt (not the best possible name, by the way) is an easy, simple way to add dust collection to an X-Carve or Shapeoko 2. The folks at Inventables reached out to [Mark] and made a few improvements. Now, the renamed X-Carve Dust Control System. It’s a proper vacuum attachment for the X-Carve with grounding and a neat brush shoe.

I don’t know if this is a joke or not. It’s certainly possible, but I seriously doubt anyone would have the patience to turn PowerPoint into a Turing Machine. That’s what [Tom Wildenhain] did for a lightning talk at SIGBOVIK 2017 at CMU. There’s a paper (PDF), and the actual PowerPoint / Turing Machine file is available.

System76 builds computers. Their focus is on computers that run Linux well, and they’ve garnered a following in the Open Source world. System76 is moving manufacturing in-house. Previously, they’ve outsourced their design and hardware work to outside companies. They’re going to work on desktops first (laptops are much harder and will come later), but with any luck, we’ll see a good, serviceable, Open laptop in a few year’s time.

Remember last week when a company tried to trademark the word ‘makerspace’? That company quickly came to their senses after some feedback from the community. That’s not all, because they also had a trademark application for the word ‘FabLab’. No worries, because this was also sorted out in short order.

Trademarking Makerspace (Again)

A British company has filed a trademark application for the word ‘MakerSpace’. While we’ve seen companies attempt to latch on to popular Maker phrases before, Gratnells Limited, the company in question, is a manufacturer of plastic containers, carts, and other various storage solutions. These products apparently provide a space to store all the stuff you make. Something along those lines.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen someone try to glom onto the immense amount of marketing Make: has put into the term ‘makerspace’. In 2015, UnternehmerTUM MakerSpaceGmbH, an obviously German tech accelerator based in Munich, filed an application to trademark the word ‘Makerspace’. A few days later, we got word this makerspace wasn’t trying to enforce anything, they were just trying to keep the rug from being pulled out from under them. It was a defensive trademark, if something like that could ever exist (and it can’t under US trademark law). Swift and efficient German bureaucracy prevailed, and the trademark was rejected.

The trademark in question here covers goods including, ‘metal hardware and building materials’, ‘trolleys, trolleys with trays’, ‘guide rails of non-metallic materials’, and ‘lids for containers’, among other storage-related items. While this is far outside the usual meaning for a ‘makerspace’ – a building or club with a whole bunch of tools – if this trademark is approved, there is always the possibility of overzealous solicitors.

Fortunately, Gratnells released a statement today saying they would not defend or continue this trademark. This is in light of the recent, limited reaction to the trademark application. The word Makerspace is safe again another day.

Thanks [Tom] for the tip.

“Makerspace” Trademark Application Rejected

The German Patent and Trademark Office has denied the application from UnterhehmerTUM for a trademark on the word “Makerspace”.  It wasn’t likely to be a threat to the community anyway, but now it’s entirely off the table. So Kwartzlab Makerspace, Houston Makerspace, Rochester Makerspace, Anchorage Makerspace, … you can all breathe easy!

To be fair, there was never any danger, just a misunderstanding.  We reported earlier on the trademark application and within a day or so got an official reply in the comments from Phil (“Mr. Mobile”) Handy that they weren’t looking to enforce anything, but were just essentially trying to make sure that nobody else could pull the rug out from under them.  (Thanks [Gentleman Nerd] for pushing them on this.)

The makerspace in question is an open-access offshoot of a business incubator that’s associated with Munich’s Technical University, and it looks like they pumped a couple million Euros into the deal, so there were doubtless layers of bureaucracy that wanted to make sure that their asses were legally covered.

Anyway, the Trademark Office did the right thing, denying the trademark because it wasn’t “unique”, and the makerspace looks awesome.  All’s well that ends well.

via [Make Magazine] (Germany)

Trademarking Makerspace

UnternehmerTUMMakerSpaceGmbH, a tech accelerator in Munich, Germany, has just filed an application to trademark the word Makerspace. This has caused some contention in the German-speaking hackosphere, and if this trademark application is approved, the few spaces in Germany that identify as a makerspace may soon be changing the sign out front.

It must be noted this trademark application only covers the word ‘Makerspace’, and not “Hackerspace”. To most of the population, the word ‘hacker’ – in English and German – conjures up images of someone wearing a balaclava and using a laptop to steal bank accounts. To the uninitiated public, a hackerspace is distinct from a makerspace. In reality, they are remarkably similar: a hackerspace has a room filled with tools; a makerspace has a room filled with tools that allow people to control their language. Little difference, really, if you discount the [Frank Luntz]-level wordsmithing.

While this could go badly for any ~space in Germany with a ‘maker’ prefix, trademarking ‘makerspace’ isn’t really that much different from calling it a TechShop, and the trademark application is probably just a product of lawyers. In any event, it looks like  UnternehmerTUM MakerSpace GmbH has a pretty cool space; 1500m² (16000sq ft) of space, a water jet, and even some sewing equipment. We’d be happy to take a tour, so long as they don’t enforce the trademark.

Thanks [Moritz] for the tip.