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Re: Tetris packages - need a less-trademarked name

For those that care:


That's the official Tetris web site, and it's even got a complete
history of Tetris and the officially licensed Tetris games.  They've
even got an e-mail address to report "pirates".  Sort of funny, since
another page describes how the original game for the PC was only 
available (in Russia) via computer pirates.

My opinion,

If I had written an unlicensed Tetris game (or was the maintainer
of a Debian tetris package) - I would not purposely go out and tangle
with their legal department.

"The Tetris Company, LLC" is essentially a holding company with one
singular asset - the Tetris trademark.  They do everything via
licensing.  If you try to tell them that they have no claim on that
trademark, you are denying their very existence.  I am sure they
have made millions of dollars licensing the trademark - so they would
have not trouble financing legal proceedings.  And it is fairly clear
(to me, at least) that they have a legitimate stake on the Tetris
name -- Alexey Pajitnov wrote the original game, after all.

If you own a trademark, or a patent, it is a very wise thing to retain
a lawyer to occassionally write threatening "cease and desist" letters
to people that are using your trademark -- even if they are not in direct
competition with you.  That way, when a "real" legal situation arises, you
can demonstrate in court that you are making a real effort to protect the
name from falling into common usage.  (This can happen)

For example, the Tetris trademark has been licensed to Nintendo.
Hypothetically, Sega could come out with their own unlicensed Tetris game
using the Tetris name.  Of course they would get sued.  If court, Sega 
might claim that the word Tetris is now "common language" - so they 
don't need a license.  But this wouldn't stand up, because "The Tetris 
Company, LLC" would have a large stack of threatening letters to prove
that they have taken reasonable efforts to protect their trademark and
prevent the term from becoming "common language".

Anyways, it's not worth fighting over, because you'll lose.  Rename the
package, and use the words "tetris-like" in the description.


 - Jim

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