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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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  • by Buckbeak ( 591708 ) on Friday October 23, 2009 @04:49PM (#29851411)
    I've ordered from both companies, but not anymore. I will continue to support SparkFun, even if they are forced to change their name. Sun/Oracle can go to hell.
  • by mpoulton ( 689851 ) on Friday October 23, 2009 @04:57PM (#29851539)

    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.

    That is not a correct conclusion. Questions of law are only settled by the court, but many questions have already been settled. An attorney's job is to research existing law (both statutes and prior cases that have been decided in court) and make a prediction about what should happen if a new case is taken to court. Sometimes it's impossible to reach a conclusion, other times the conclusion is nearly certain; usually it's in between. The rules of ethics and of civil procedure prohibit attorneys from bringing suit when their argument is unsupported by existing law or a reasonable extension of existing law. This is rarely enforced with vigor, because there is often some type of legitimate argument that can be made to support even a very weak case - but not always.

    But I don't think that anyone here knows enough law to unequivocally state that this claim is unsupported by law.

    Don't be too sure about that. I'm not a trademark attorney, so I wouldn't venture a conclusive opinion about this case without doing some additional research first - but some here may be qualified to do so. With that said, my prior post was not intended to state that this case is meritless. I don't think it is. I think it's weak, but plausible. It's weak on the facts, not the law. If I were SPARC's attorney, I would have discouraged them from pursuing it.

  • Clan McDonald (Score:3, Interesting)

    by the eric conspiracy ( 20178 ) on Friday October 23, 2009 @05:24PM (#29851873)

    The Guardians of Clan Donald
    (Na Dionadairean Clann Dhomhnuill)
    By authority of Lord Macdonald,
    Premier Clan Chief of Clan Donald.
    22 Dunecht Road, Westhill, Aberdeenshire, AB32 6RH.
    Tele: 01224 740073

    Lord Macdonald of Macdonald, premier clan chief of Clan Donald, has appointed Ronald W McDonald to be Sergeant-Major at Arms of the Guardians of Clan Donald: the linear descendant of the chief's bodyguard. It will be open to all Macdonalds and their septs, dependents, and descendants, who are in good standing in the community. Successful applicants will be enlisted as Sergeants at Arms and issued with a Warrant in the form of a Certificate which is suitable for framing. The cost of membership is £1 (postal orders please) or £2 sterling for overseas applicants.

    The Guardians of Clan Donald aim to uphold and protect the dignity and honour of the ancient and honourable name of Clan Donald by all legal means. One specific aim is to offer moral support to Mary Blair, proprietor of McMunchies, a small sandwich bar in Fenny Stratford, Buckinghamshire, who is being threatened with legal action by McDonald's Restaurants, the fast food chain, for daring to use the prefix "Mc" in the name of her shop. When interviewed in BBC2's "The Money Programme" a top trademark lawyer made it clear that McDonald's have not a legal leg to stand on. Instead they rely on their unlimited financial resources to bully small businesses who cannot afford to fight back.

    This type of business ethics might be good practice in the USA but it is singularly un-British. McDonald's have registered most names beginning with 'Mc' as trademarks, not with any intention of using them, but to try and stop anyone of that name setting up a restaurant. Even my own name Ronald McDonald has been registered as one of their trademarks. This is an attack on Scottish culture when even our very names are hijacked.

    It has been stated by government ministers that a person is fully entitled to use their own name for business. But McDonald's has grown so large it is supra-national, with an advertising budget bigger than the Gross National Product of many countries. It is time that the government took in hand this matter of bullying of small businesses by companies such as McDonald' s. Perhaps this might be a subject for debate by a future Scottish Parliament.

    If McDonald's persists in its action against McMunchies they are disgracing the ancient and honourable name of Macdonald. In the days when a clan chief had the power of pit and gallows the ultimate penalty for shaming the clan name was to be flung over a cliff but it seems unlikely that any executive of McDonald's Restaurants would volunteer for this!

    Injustice and bullying are matters that concerns everyone and not just those affiliated to one clan. To this end, the Guardians of Clan Donald have decided to launch a petition calling upon McDonald's Restaurants to drop their action against Mary Blair of McMunchies Sandwich Bar. Petitions should be sent to the Guardians of Clan Donald or direct to McDonald's Restaurants, 11-59 High Road, East Finchley, London N2 8AW. (Fax Number 0181-700 7050 Telephone 0181-700 7000). A personal letter, telephone call or fax to McDonald's condemning their action is also effective.

    Any assistance from the media would be much appreciated.

    Back to Media Page

    Press Index

  • by thetoadwarrior ( 1268702 ) on Friday October 23, 2009 @06:03PM (#29852231) Homepage
    Sun is not Sparc but a Sparc compliant company. As a trademark holder I know the US gov makes it very clear that you can lose your trademark for not defending it. I would bet Sparc doesn't care about sparkfun but their lawyers do because Americans do stupid things like vote a load of lawyers into the government who watch over their own and have made it so what Sparc's lawyers are doing is effectively a requirement for having a trademark.

    Lawyers love to make work for their own which is why lawyers should be banned from running for office.
  • by mysidia ( 191772 ) on Friday October 23, 2009 @06:24PM (#29852413)

    hm.. Sparc International's an industry trade association setup by Sun some 10 years ago.

    Basically, SPARC members are the companies that make SPARC-compatible devices.

    My biggest issue with SPARC's sudden claim is that SparkFun has been around for 10 years, and well-known to the public.

    Basically, it seems like they have sat on their rights for a long time, and waited way too long before taking any action.

    They ought not to be allowed to proceed with their claim.

  • Re:well now (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ipc0nfig ( 1486043 ) on Saturday October 24, 2009 @01:43AM (#29854521)
    Dear Sun Legal Department, I submit the following trademark infringements to the SPARC name;

    Spark IM Client:
    Spark People:
    Spark Mobile:
    Spark Notes:

    I will soon contact you for a finders fee for the above 4 infringements and am willing to name more names. I look forward to working with you.

If you think nobody cares if you're alive, try missing a couple of car payments. -- Earl Wilson