Subject: stealth trademarks
From: "Stephen J. Turnbull" <turnbull@sk.tsukuba.ac.jp>
Date: Fri, 1 Oct 1999 10:43:40 +0900 (JST)

>>>>> "Bruce" == Bruce Perens <bruce@perens.com> writes:

    Bruce> There's also the case of the LEGO robotics software, which
    Bruce> embedded a trademarked string in their API. The idea was
    Bruce> that you could not use their Windows DLL without sending it
    Bruce> the trademarked string, and then they could sue for
    Bruce> infringement. I don't know if they still do this.

Could this stand up in court?  The value of a trademark is in the
goodwill associated with it in the minds of human beings.

This, on the other hand, is an arbitrary string in a _protocol_, no
human beings ever see it in a marketing communications context, it has
a precise technical definition with no goodwill implications ("Fsck
LEGO!" would serve the needs of the protocol equally well).  Suing on
that basis sounds like intimidation via legal costs, pure and simple.

In the U.S. that would leave you open to counteraction via RICO :-/

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