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Re: [Debian-uk] Sun have (probably) patented apt-get

>>>>> "Stephen" == Stephen Birch <sgbirch@imsmail.org> writes:

    Stephen> It seems that when RMS cried "the sky is falling" [this
    Stephen> time regarding patents] he was, once again, absolutely
    Stephen> correct.  Software patents are the single biggest threat
    Stephen> not only to the open source movement but also to
    Stephen> small/medium sized software companies.

Apparently Microsoft has applied for a patents around the world
covering "XML-based word processors", including supposedly Docbook,
Abiword, and Kword, by Microsoft[1]. Different articles give different
impressions on how far this process has come.

If this isn't bad enough, there is a patent of the word "Stealth"[2].


[1] http://smh.com.au/articles/2005/07/05/1120329438947.html (reg required)
    http://www.tectonic.co.za/view.php?id=502                (public)

[2] http://theage.com.au/articles/2005/07/05/1120329445828.html
(both require registration)

Man of few words speaks language of litigation
July 6, 2005

It's no hoax. A man who claims to own the trademark on the word
'stealth' even did battle over the military bomber, writes Colin

Can a man own a word? And can he sue to keep other people from using
it? Over the past few years, Leo Stoller has written dozens of letters
to companies, organisations and individuals stating that he owns the
trademark to the word "stealth".

He has threatened to sue people who have used the word without his
permission. In some cases, he has offered to drop objections in
exchange for thousands of dollars. And in a few instances, people or
companies have paid up.

Stoller, a 59-year-old entrepreneur based in Chicago, owns and runs
Rentamark. com, a company that offers, among other things, advice on
sending cease-and-desist letters and Stoller's services as an expert
witness in trademark trials. Through Rentamark, Stoller offers
licensing agreements for other words he says he owns and controls,
such as bootlegger, hoax and chutzpah.

He is in a legal dispute with Sony's Columbia Pictures over a film
about navy pilots titled - what else? - Stealth.

Stoller said he first registered "stealth" as a trademark in 1985 to
cover an array of sporting goods. But in recent years, "stealth" has
become widely used in marketing.

Companies including Kmart and the consumer electronics maker JVC have
removed "stealth" from their websites after hearing from
Stoller. Panasonic omitted the word from a product called the "stealth
wired remote zoom/pause control" after receiving one of his letters.

"If you can solve problems without going to court you're better off,"
said Russell Rotter, a lawyer for Panasonic.

The best-known stealth brand may be the US military's B2 stealth
bomber, whose main contractor, Northrop Grumman, has fought Stoller to
something of stand-off. In 2001, the company paid Stoller $10 and
agreed to abandon its trademark applications to use "stealth bomber"
in spin-off products like model aeroplanes and video games.

In return, Stoller agreed not to oppose Northrop's use of "stealth" in
aircraft or defence equipment.

Trademark owners can obtain the right to use a word for commercial
purposes and prevent others from seeking to use the same word for
similar commercial purposes.

A search of US Patent and Trademark Office records found that Stoller
and companies that share a Chicago post office box with him hold at
least two dozen registered trademarks for "stealth," for such diverse
products and services as crossbows, pool cues and insurance

Stoller said that he also held and administered as many as two dozen
other "stealth" trademarks.

"We're entitled to own it with all goods and services," he said. "We
were there first."

But Mark Lemley, a professor at Stanford Law School, said: "Trademark
law doesn't give you exclusive rights in words, only the right to
prevent consumer confusion. He's not in a position to claim that his
mark is unique or famous. It's a common English word that's already
been used in many contexts as a trademark by others."

Stoller says his companies have been in court 60 times but there is no
record within the Lexis database of a Federal Court decision on
"stealth" in his favour. But in 2003, the US Trademark Trial and
Appeal Board refused to allow an air conditioner company, York
International, to use "stealth" because Stoller had previously sold
air conditioners with that name.

Stoller has also been on the receiving end of lawsuits. In 1997, the
watchmaker Timex, which held a trademark for "stealth" watches,
successfully sued him in Federal Court in Connecticut for trademark

Eric Goldhagen, a member of the free technology training group
InterActivist Network, said: "The fact that somebody, just by claiming
to own a word, can intimidate large companies and powerful law firms
shows the damage, to an extent, is already done."

In the movie realm, Stoller says that he wrote to Sony in March,
objecting to Columbia Pictures' plan to call its navy film
Stealth. The next month Columbia asked the Federal Court in Chicago to
rule that using the word as a movie title did not violate copyright

Stoller, who has filed a counterclaim, says he will not back down. "I
will police and protect the stealth mark against all," he said.
Brian May <bam@debian.org>

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