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PDA Musician: PocketSynth Pro naming

:: Thursday, October 28th, 2004 @ 11:41:10 pm

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Look at these two products: Pocketsynth and PocketSynth Pro. I wrote the original Pocketsynth in 1996, and the folks at PDA Musician wrote another product with the same name many years later, a product for Windows CE. Despite the fact that the program they wrote is probably very useful, it’s unfortunate that they chose the same name. I suppose that I would take action if I were still supporting Pocketsynth, but since I’m not, I guess it’s not worth it.

In a fit of annoyance, I submitted a PalmGear review and sent an e-mail to Wolfgang, the author, who wrote back a message this morning that was both polite and slightly confrontational. Granted, my original e-mail was confrontational as well, so maybe I’m at fault. However, both of us agree that we are not interested in pursuing any sort of ugly war. And my product isn’t supported anymore, anyway.

But what are the “rules” about product naming, anyway? What if someone unknowingly uses a name you have already used? Do you have to have a trademark on the name in order to win a legal battle?

| Jackson Heights, Queens | link | trackback | Oct 28, 2004 23:41:10
  • guest

    to the best of my knowledge, one need not register a trademark official in order to be afforded protection from trademark infringement. however, official registration provides irrefutable proof of the date of inception of the mark. in your case, it is clear that his product name is a derivative of your original trademark however as you no longer develop nor support your product, you would not be able to show proof of consumer confusion or deception, which is one of the required elements for the tort of trademark infringement.

  • guest

    According to my lawschool intellectual property notes, you don’t have to register a trademark to have local rights, first in use has priority. You would be able to establish your use by sales of your product. Assuming that for the past 3 years you did not resume use of the product, then Wolfgang might have the defense of abandonment of the trademark you originally had, under the Lanham Act and he would be entitled to use it. But if you can show that other people are still using the product subject to a trademark license then you would have local trademark rights in all areas where people are using your product, otherwise Wolfgang would have another defense of naked licensing. Naked licensing is when you have uncontrolled trademark licensing, to prevent this you must have a contractual provision when licensing that outlines use of your trademark.
    You could still have rights to the trademark if you filed for it in CA or Federally. The US gives priority for the first use of the trademark rather than first to file the trademark like the rest of the world. What you might want to do is have Wolfgang sign some sort of document in which he agrees to license the trademark from you so that he has no rights to the trademark or you can register the trademark in CA or federally (for protection across the US.) Or if Wolfgang tries to register the trademark you can file an opposition . Good luck!

  • http://www.none.com guest

    I would just drop the matter. Taking legal measures will only distract you from life and cause unnecessary stress. Ask youself whether the benefits of taking such measures outweigh the costs.

  • echeng

    to guest: “However, both of us agree that we are not interested in pursuing any sort of ugly war.”

    I believe I did write that, in the entry.

  • Andy

    Dude, that is so lame!

  • echeng

    it’s ok — i was only annoyed initially. I wish him the best of luck with his product. :)

  • http://simon.klaiber.com SimonK

    I think it is a good idea not to take any legal steps.
    If this is common understanding between you and the other programmer it is an even better idea that you exchage this comon understanding in written form to reduce the chances of second thoughts that might lead to “ugly legal wars”

    Simon

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