Trademarks, Patents, Popular Free Software & Co

Posted on:September 13 2006

Maybe you've heard of it, some weeks ago one of those braindamaged lazy lawyers who try to get a lot money from absolutely honest people by sueing them down for something absolutely ridiculous did it again. He registered a (trade?)mark with the same name of the popular and free software virtualdub - without an own real product behind it of course - and started to admonish people linking to the real virtualdub webpage. Just because he intended to make money from the dissuasion, not his virtualdub 'product'. (BTW: This was a german lawyer again. Maybe its because I'm reading the lawblog to much, but I'm getting the impression that those bastards always are coming from my home country...)
Fortunately, the author of virtualdub wasn't deterred, and altough he doesn't live near germany - namely in the USA - he hired a german lawyer to fight back, and now it looks pretty good for him. Good news!

All this makes me think about what would happen if someone tried this with Irrlicht. I don't know if I would spend a thousands of euros for a lawyer to defend my rights on this. But I already thought about preventing this situation by buying a mark myself. The problem: They are not that cheap. Especially european or international marks. An Austrian mark is cheaper but wouldn't help at all. And I don't want to start a donation button on - as far as I estimate this wouldn't pay out at all although still currently about 400 people are downloading irrlicht each day, and we've about 103.755 project web hits per day. Incredible numbers, if you ask me.


Indeed :D
2006-09-13 20:26:00

Hi, just in case, that something bad like this would happen, you could for example write to the FSF (Free Software Foundation). I does not exactly know how they work, but I think they have or knew Lawyer specialised on Open Source software. And perhaps they are willing to support porjects like irrlicht.

Anyway: keep on rocking
2006-09-13 21:10:00

Lawyer bastards indeed !

Interesting numbers. 103K hits per day. Are those unique ip adresses or pageview's ?
Amazing that only 4354 people can be bothered to register with the forum. Propably even less active users (let's say 3 or more posts during the last month). So maybe 1 in 25 users are registered ??
Personally I think it is more like 1 in 3, so maybe 10000 active users. That is still an amazing number!

I guess most people quite using Irrlicht when they realize that it takes months to years of work to finish a project.

I have been using Irr for ~2 years now. So far I have only got one demo game and two wrapper classes to show for myself.
My main project will take another year to finish. sigh...
2006-09-13 21:18:00

Maybe an Austrian mark would help and doesn´t cost too much.
Maybe 250 €.
I think it will really improve your chances in a law fight because
you can proove that you have this mark.
Only bad thing is that somebody can register it in the us and
then he can use it there.
2006-09-14 00:27:00

i'd donate $10 if it would help keep irrlicht free.
2006-09-14 01:51:00

So register it with the US.

I can't understand a word of the site so I have no idea how much it would be. Stupid legal stuff. :P
Michael Summers
2006-09-14 04:51:00

Why not adding an adsense banner by google?
It's not intrusive for end-users: no popups, no pictures, only small links the same colors as your page.

Since you have a lot of traffic, it could give you a substantial cashflow.

Personnally, on opensource project pages, I often click on those adsense banners to give some support to developers.

So there would be only advantages. You should consider it.
2006-09-14 06:02:00

I would say you already have good chances now.
Like the guy fromt virtualdub. Because the name Irrlicht has become very popular with your engine and you are using it for two years now. So registering a mark 'Irrlicht' in the scope of IT would be worthless i assume ...

or isn't there something like "prior art"?
2006-09-14 09:58:00

"Because the name Irrlicht has become very popular with your engine and you are using it for +two years+ now."

isn't 'irrlicht' more than 2 years in use?
2006-09-14 13:24:00

Didn't ix mention that niko started the project in 2004?
2006-09-14 15:16:00

i have personally been using irrlicht since fall 2003, so no; irrlicht is older than 2004.
2006-09-14 15:54:00

"irrlicht - since 2002": "irredit - since 2006":
2006-09-14 17:53:00

niko, i thought you were from austria ?
or at least your studying here.
2006-09-14 20:57:00

It is not the subject, sorry, but I send you an email there is several years in your box and i get no reply, do you check this adress?
thank you

P.S. nice blog ;) i will bookmark it!
2006-09-15 12:43:00

hm, yet, I got it two days ago. Have dozens of unanswered mails in my inbox, working on it. about google ads: I remember sourceforge doesn't allow it, at least i think.
no, I'm 'just' living in austria.
2006-09-15 18:22:00

I'm in the US and registering a trademark here is around $300 to $600 US Dollars (237€ to 474€ Euros).
2006-09-15 21:09:00

Niko, I did suggest to implement a paypal donation button some time ago - and although you don't seem to like this idea, I do so again. Especially for a dedicated goal (like getting a mark), it could work, I think. You'd have to keep people updated, tho.
2006-09-16 18:39:00

Don't be afraid of putting a donation button on the Irrlicht web. Personally I would be happy to donate a few euro's to this great project, and the guys using Irrlicht for commercial products indeed should donate a few bucks too.
2006-09-29 08:10:00

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