Via GrokLaw, I learned that someone managed to trademark Hackathon in Germany!
Am I surprised? Partly no and party yes. I am not surprised because the (1) It is arguable that English speaking countries’ Trademark Office will be aware of the common use of the word ‘Hackathon’ to reject the trademark application let alone a German speaking one; (2) An argument can be made that ‘Hackathon’, when used in a meaning rather than Hacking + Marathon, can qualify for trademark protection; and (3) A word common in one language might be judged unusual enough to another language/culture setting to be granted Trademark. Don’t believe my argument #2? Just look at how many “Princess Diana” trademarks got registered when the poor princess died in a car accident back in the 1990s. To add salt to injury, it is her own countryman registering them in her country.
I am surprised that in this day and age they think they could get away with it, especially with a word that will irk the people most apt with the very new technology that make mass pressure easy!
We should fight the trademarking of the word Hackathon in Germany. In fact, on first reading, I thought it is time to raise the money to fight rather than waiting for the company to fulfill the promise to cancel the mark which is PJ’s preferred way. Then I gave it 10 minutes and agree that PJ’s way is better. Lets give the company the benefit of the doubt that it is going to do that. However, as PJ implied, we have to be vigilant and check in a latter date that they do. If not, lets take a stand and see where the law stands.