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The Courts

Sparc Sends SparkFun Electronics C&D Letter 219

moogied writes ", a electronics component provider, has been sent a cease and desist letter by Sparc in response to the lengthy trademark process that SparkFun is participating in. The letter states 'Because the dominant portion of the SparkFun mark, namely, SPARK, is phonetically identical and nearly visually identical to SI's SPARC mark, and because it is used in connection with identical goods, we believe confusion is likely to occur among the relevant purchasing group.' has provided the entire contents of the letter, with a breakdown of points it feels are most relevant."
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Sparc Sends SparkFun Electronics C&D Letter

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  • Happens all the time (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 23, 2009 @04:04PM (#29850693)
    In the twisted world of intellectual property. Seems very similar to this ridiculous case involving a teapot [].
  • Ich liebe SparC-fun (Score:2, Informative)

    by cellurl ( 906920 ) * <> on Friday October 23, 2009 @04:04PM (#29850699) Homepage Journal
    I love spark-fun. I bought cheap GPS modules from them. They have a nack for bulk-buying cool stuff that inventors need. They also respond to criticism and suggestions. Heck, I should work for them, don't you think?
  • Re:well now (Score:3, Informative)

    by Animixer ( 134376 ) on Friday October 23, 2009 @04:19PM (#29850927)

    guess who won't be buying any more sparc servers?

    Someone who is not interested in supporting Open Source processors?

    SPARC is an organization that licenses processor designs (Scalable Processor ARChitecture), provides docs, and even licenses a keyboard interface design (this part is low cost). I'm not sure what they charge, it may be just a fee for making sure your processor conforms to the sparcv9 spec or similar and you can put the SPARC stamp on your box. I have not heard of them being unreasonable before. It's an independent body. Sun and Fujitsu/Siemens happen to be a couple of the companies that use the processor design (modified for thier use). Probably similar to ARM in this case, but I will freely admit I do not know many details about the subject. I do know that one can download the designs and source code for the OpenSPARC T1 and T2 series processors from []

    I hear that someone has a design that runs an OpenSPARC on a FPGA (granted, single core, but still cool).

    So if you care about having an "Open" CPU design in your system, then you'll be missing out by avoiding SPARC.

    Alas I do not have many facts available to back this up. has been blocked by firefox or my antivirus somehow...perhaps someone is attacking it out of badwill or they got owned independently.


    BTW: I've run gentoo on 'sun4u' SPARC processors, and hear that the kernel has lots of support for the 'Open' T1/T2 line and hypervisor, etc.

  • In after some FUD (Score:5, Informative)

    by PaintyThePirate ( 682047 ) on Friday October 23, 2009 @04:20PM (#29850947) Homepage
    Sun has nothing to do with this. SPARC International owns the trademark, not Sun.
  • by A.S.M. ( 20169 ) on Friday October 23, 2009 @04:20PM (#29850955)

    Sun named their product line after a natural phenomenon, a spark, and is now going after any one using the natural phenomenon's namesake?

    No. Sun Microsystems is a member of Sparc International, along with a slew of other companies (TI, Hitachi, Fujitsu, etc, etc -- []), but Sparc International != Sun.

  • by mpoulton ( 689851 ) on Friday October 23, 2009 @04:27PM (#29851083)

    Aren't you required to vigorously defend your trademark or else stand to lose it?

    Yeah, it may be ridiculous, and yeah, a judge may decide that it is indeed ridiculous as well. But they -still- have to go through these claims in order to vigorously defend.

    Vigorous defense of one's trademark does not demand that one pursue ridiculous or even questionable claims. All it means is that you can't knowingly allow violation of your trademark, then attempt to enforce it later. Where a case appears legally questionable, or outright stupid, there is absolutely no duty to pursue it. All the normal rules of civil procedure apply, including Rule 11. "Vigorous defense of trademark" is not a defense for filing a claim unsupported by law.

  • by Red Flayer ( 890720 ) on Friday October 23, 2009 @04:38PM (#29851253) Journal

    All it means is that you can't knowingly allow violation of your trademark, then attempt to enforce it later. Where a case appears legally questionable, or outright stupid, there is absolutely no duty to pursue it.

    That's a very narrow interpretation. If you allow your trademark to be diluted, then you weaken your ability to defend it later, even with more meritorious claims against different infringers.

    Failure to defend a trademark can be used to overturn the trademark assignment if contested.

    IANAL, obviously. But I've been responsible for trademarks at several employers, and had lengthy conversations with attorneys on the matter -- this is just my understanding based on those conversations. Of course, since they IP attorneys get paid to contest infringing use, they are motivated to ensure I want to vigorously defend my trademarks...

  • by NeutronCowboy ( 896098 ) on Friday October 23, 2009 @04:40PM (#29851271)

    "Vigorous defense of trademark" is not a defense for filing a claim unsupported by law.

    Here's the issue: the only place where questions of law are settled is a court room. Which in turn means that the only way to find out whether something is unsupported by law is to file a lawsuit and see where the chips fall.

    Yes, some cases are highly unlikely to succeed. I doubt Sun would be able to successfully sue the Pope for trademark infringement. But I don't think that anyone here knows enough law to unequivocally state that this claim is unsupported by law.

  • by mbessey ( 304651 ) on Friday October 23, 2009 @08:20PM (#29853161) Homepage Journal

    Yikes. []

    What is the current listing status for

            Site is listed as suspicious - visiting this web site may harm your computer.

            Part of this site was listed for suspicious activity 9 time(s) over the past 90 days.

    What happened when Google visited this site?

            Of the 244 pages we tested on the site over the past 90 days, 3 page(s) resulted in malicious software being downloaded and installed without user consent. The last time Google visited this site was on 2009-10-22, and the last time suspicious content was found on this site was on 2009-10-22.

            Malicious software includes 12 trojan(s), 8 exploit(s), 6 scripting exploit(s). Successful infection resulted in an average of 2 new process(es) on the target machine.

            Malicious software is hosted on 6 domain(s), including,,

            2 domain(s) appear to be functioning as intermediaries for distributing malware to visitors of this site, including,

            This site was hosted on 1 network(s) including AS21844 (THEPLANET).

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