[NTLK] Trademarks. Was: Call for Einstein domain names

Matthias Melcher mm at matthiasm.com
Mon Dec 5 17:01:24 EST 2011

OK, here's a short overview on trademark. IANAL, but I do own a few names, and this is what I learned,

Anyone can register a trademark in one or more countries. You can try to register one "worldwide", but very many countries could care less about your rights. You must pay for your trademark every ten or so years on a per-country or per-region base (one region for example is the European Union). 

Trademarks apply only to a limited number of segments. For example, you can have a TM on alcoholic beverages named Einstein. Someone else can still register a TM for an alcohol free beverage named Einstein. Computer programs are their own segment, obviously.

As soon as you stop paying your fees, the trademark is free again. But also if you don't use your trademark, it's considered abandoned - even if you paid your fees.

Lastly, you have to defend you trademark. Let's say we want to register Minestein, the owner of Einstein may file a complaint (200 pages of lawyerspeak) because the names sound similar and products could be confused. At this point, the entity that registered Einstein must prove that the name is in (commercial) use.

Now, for the trademark "Newton". It was registered in 1992 IIRC by Apple in the USA and Europe, and abandoned in the US in 1996. It was officially canceled in 2006 (could be that Apple simply did not pay the fees).

Now if you shout HOORRRAY and run to the next patent attorney, be warned: it's expensive to register the TM in the US, more so in the EU, and a lot more world-wide. Additionally, there are multiple Newton TM in relation to software out there, so you will surely need an attorney to answer the complaints. If you nevertheless get the TM, you will need to use it actively (and commercially) within four years, or it will be marked abandoned. And in 2021, you'd have to pony up another rounds of fees.

 - Matthias

PS: as for the Einstein unique name, I suggest "einstein.unna.org", assuming that Morgan agrees to the use. This has the additional benefit that we can have further products ending in "unna.org" .

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