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Python Trademark at Risk in Europe

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The Python Software Foundation is at risk of losing their trademark in Europe to a UK company. They are asking for your help and support to fight this.

From the Python Software Foundation's Blog:

There is a company in the UK that is trying to trademark the use of the term "Python" for all software, services, servers... pretty much anything having to do with a computer. 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.

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About Author

Bart Veldhuizen

I have a LONG history with Blender - I wrote some of the earliest Blender tutorials, worked for Not a Number and helped run the crowdfunding campaign that open sourced Blender (the first one on the internet!). I founded BlenderNation in 2006 and have been editing it every single day since then ;-) I also run the Blender Artists forum and I'm Head of Community at Sketchfab.

41 Comments

    • It's not corporate shit, it's lawyer shit. Just another peckerwood treating his law degree as a license to commit extortion. These people get away with this sort of thing by threatening to bankrupt their opponents with legal fees.

      The good news is that England has a "loser pays" law, which means that they're a lot more likely to back down if their victims show a little backbone. My guess is that unless they buy themselves a magistrate, they're going to have a very difficult time proving that their case.

  1. Why does every company pretends that when they give a name to a program, they immediately own the word? (also referring to Bethesda's lawsuit against Mojang over the use of the word "Scrolls".)

    I don't think that a person or company should be able to "own" a word. Just because I call my cat "Spots" doesn't mean that everybody else has to find another name for their pet.
    Of course it would be confusing if multiple programs have the same name, but real companies will try to distinguish themselves from others, choosing different names for their software/hardware.

    On another note: the programming language itself is nearly 22 years old. If the company wanted the trademark, they should have tried that 20 years ago, not now.

    • Ignorance of law and what it's true purpose is, has caused endless amounts of drawn out lawsuits over trademarks.
      For example Scrolls should have been thrown right out, the game is called Elder Scrolls, not Scrolls, and the trademark should apply only to that or games trying to sound the same. Only the biggest idiots would possibly confuse Scrolls with Elder Scrolls.(working in a game store I can confidently say that most refer to the games in this series by the individual titles unless it's unannounced or referring to the series as a whole)

      This case is obviously different but equally stupid.

  2. During my time in the Us, California, since 1980s and later i have seen that type of practice by companies that tries to steal or plain grab a mark or a brand, logo etc.
    Most of the time they don't succeed but sometimes like for Microsoft, Sun, Java the conclusion ends up by the open source organisation is bought back by the companies that wants to take over. And we know the results with Java and Oracle..
    In the case of Python it is evident that their existance is proven since more than 20 years and I hope that the EU will be rational in that matter and defends something that is of use to a very large community of programmers and users, including the ECC that uses python and open source software intensively.

  3. I personally believe they have themselves to blame for this situation. Why didn't they trademark the name in Europe when they had the chance? With trademarks it's 'first come, first serve.'

    At best we can hope that the British company won't enforce their trademark against the Python Foundation.

  4. I think it might be part of a bigger scam then python.co can be expected to deal with. Software that 'plugs in' to other software is very attractive to some characters

  5. Simply having a domain does not give anyone the right to a trademark.
    If one looks at the UK company's terms and conditions, nowhere does it state the name or any reference to Python.
    As PSF have used the name for such a long time, it is unlikely that anyone else would get their hands on the trademark. Besides, COPYRIGHT law could prove that PSF are in a safe position.
    I would contact Nominet (the UK net domain governing body) and make a formal complaint about this company, and ask that the ownership be transferred to PSF as the UK company in question is acting with malice - they have never used the name directly, and could easily be seen as cyber-squatting.

  6. I suggest we do nothing and watch and wait so that in one fell swoop, we completely destroy them with in ICC (International Criminal Court). Since they will be pumbled into the ground with lawyer fees endlessly and to the point where it'll absolutely destroy them both publicly (let them gain recognition as being a complete and utter idiot within the media) and financially in lawyer fees.

  7. Hear, hear!

    Just because I call my cat “Spots” doesn’t mean that everybody else has to find another name for their pet.

    Hopefully, it will come down to precedence: 20+ years versus 13.

    • Python is a generic term both in zoology and software engineering across the globe and it's highly unlikely that they'll succeed in their indevors most especially since companies have lost their trademarks to products in the past due to the fact that they became generalized.

      A prime example is the word Cleenex. At one point, because of its wide spread general usage within the US, they had to change it to Kleenex.

          • Regardless of the history of Kleenex, Python is a Generic Term and because of that, claims for certain IP rights WILL NOT hold up within the court of law. Unless this company is as big as Apple, they have no solid ground to stand upon.

          • It is not a generic term in the Software industry. If you mention or use the term Python to programmers or IT folks the will know that you are referring to a specific programming language.

            Trademarks are not copyrights. First to use doesn't give you the right to a trademark in some countries it has to be first to register/file.

            Which puzzles me as to why the Python Foundation did make sure that 'Python' was trademarked? Python has been around for 22 years now.

  8. I use Blender for work and hobby. It uses Python extensively. How can I help? I have nothing that was listed on that site.
    Can we start a kind of petition with signatures or whatever? If the suing will be not good (in a perspective) for Python then we just can spam (by separate letters) this company with words that we'll be "advertizing" their company as a thief and a scam source and possible unstable electronic devices (whatever they want to put into the market).

    BTW can it be a PR show for public to spread the info about some new unknown company? Do history knows some "generous knight's tales" about companies that suddenly decided to change their mind. The knight here can be that other company. I mean this.

    • using another programming language isn't solving anything. The python community has to show that they can't be taken lightly. This company is like a bully that tries to take a kid's toys. Not because he wants to play with it, but to hurt the kid. Simply giving in and finding something else won't solve the problem.

  9. Well if it came to a legal battle maybe Google would be kind enough to put there hat in the ring since they did use python script as their origonal back bone. Heck they still give python classes.

  10. Have some faith in the system. All the Python foundation need to do is monitor this and object when the company goes to the EU institution governing brands. That's what every company does. I wouldn't recommend any company trying to take over an older brand, it doesn't work. Just get a lawyer specializing in IP to look at it.

  11. Interesting article about this:

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/02/19/python_versus_veber_trademark/

    It appears that PSF cannot claim exclusivity on the name as more than 200 other companies of different sizes and interests in the US now also own Python trademarks, from those making vehicle-tracking systems to musical instruments and stationery. Among them is ActiveState, which makes a business from selling support for its own packaged distro of Python called ActivePython.

    PSF doesn't have a clear field in Europe either. According to the European Trademarks and Designs Registration Office, 12 operations hold Python in their trademark.

    Poultney claims he’s only interested in the trademark on the servers. “We are not interested in the trademark on the language,” Poultney told The Reg.

    • It's about conflicting interests. Companies that produce completely different products can apply for the same name as a trademark.
      E.g. One of those Pythons listed in the European Trademarks and Designs Registration Office produces welding torches, another one exhausts for motorcycles. I wouldn't be surprised if the latter uses the products of the first to make their products.
      But in this casebetween Our Holding and PSF there are conflicting interets. The list of goods that Our Holding filed says in the very first sentence: "Design and development of computer hardware and software;"
      http://oami.europa.eu/CTMOnline/RequestManager/en_DetailCTM_NoReg
      And that does overlap with the Python language.
      ActiveState is not a good example. They openly say that their version of ActivePython is " precompiled, supported, quality-assured Python distribution" http://www.activestate.com/activepython which is legit. Python is open source and as long as you comply to the open source license redistributiion and repackiging is allowed.
      All of this as far as i know.

      • oh, crap) sorry I meant some other word.. not reign.. English is not my native language
        "they will outflow in their blood" )) something like this. Next time I'll check before posting.

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