Saturday, March 28, 2009

Some trademark lesson to a particular group of people

Update : the organizer have clarified the issue. So they will not use OSDC as the track name. They are also in another process of creating an Open Source Developer Club for a different, post-event purpose. The track placeholders will be renamed to other name. All in all, great!!.

IANAL


A trademark or trade mark, identified by the symbols ™ (not yet registered) and ® (registered), is a distinctive sign or indicator used by an individual, organization or other legal entity to identify that the products and/or services to consumers with which the trademark appears originate from a unique source of origin, and to distinguish its products or services from those of other entities.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trademark


OSCon is basically a trademark of O'Reilly OSCon, FOSS.my is a trademark of FOSS.my Events Sdn Bhd, and OSDC is a trademark of OSDC Australia.

All three of the marks, are identities of 3 different full blown conference. Of which OSDC and FOSS.my are community-managed conferences, the former in Australia, and the latter in Malaysia.

Creating an event that is called an ***OSCon, where its tracks are being called as OSDC.my and FOSS.my is an abuse of the latter 2 trademarks.

Why I said that? A trademark basically identifies the unique origins of a particular entity. For example, when people says CocaCola, they will know it is the cola drink in the red curved bottle with the CocaCola logo on it and originated from the company who owns the CocaCola trademark, and when people says Pepsi, its the cola drink in the blue bottle with the Pepsi logo on it and produced by the company that owns the Pepsi trademark. And people will expect a particular taste when they buy a CocaCola and a different particular taste when they buy a Pepsi.

So, when one says FOSS.my, they will expect a free flowing, community managed event, filled with FOSS enthusiast , lovers, and contributors, with least formality and control rather than some rigid event. The same goes for the OSDC mark.

In this ***OSCon case, both of the trademarks are being infringed by associating them with something which they are not. Both OSDC and FOSS.my marks are being downplayed to just 2 tracks, of which the main event and the tracks are rigid events, where community are neither involved nor have their voices it.

Why should we care?. A trademark is the identity of a particular entity, and if somebody else, uses the trademark, in a way that differs from the real identity, it will affect the identity of the mark on how the public perceive the mark. It will also creates confusion on what a particular mark is associated with.


One of the main functions of a trademark is to prevent consumer confusion. For example, a consumer knows that he or she can get the same quality food in a McDonald’s in Pennsylvania as he or she can from a McDonald’s in California. Given our global economy, the importance of trademarks cannot be overstated. The law of trademarks is designed to prevent competitors from confusing customers into thinking that they are buying products and services from a trusted, known source when in reality, this is not the case.

http://www.tms.org/pubs/journals/JOM/matters/matters-0212.html


I hope this little rant post will increase awareness of the importance of trademark not only that particular organization, but also to the general Malaysia where it is common to see people genericizing trademarks.

DISCLAIMER: This post is purely my own post, not respresenting any organization stated in this post. Make it the FOSS.my, nor OSDC, nor the comittee of ***OSCon.
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