Who will defend the Internet trademark?

Who will defend the Internet trademark?

Summary: You can use the word Internet, capital I and all, to mean anything you wish.

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TOPICS: Browser
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Registered TrademarkIn Australia, GNU's Richard Stallman recently called the Linux trademark fracas "a distraction" from the real issue, which is your right to freely see, use and change software.

Maybe it is a distraction. But there is a trademark issue I don't think he would consider a distraction.

That issue involves the Internet itself. Notice that I used a capital I in Internet just then? While there is ample discussion of trademark issues on the Internet, and trademark disputes about the Internet, no one actually controls the trademark Internet.  

This means the trademark can be misused. You can use the word Internet, capital I and all, to mean anything you wish.

Now, the definition of a true Internet is pretty well understood, and it's Stallman's dream. You can reach anything on the Internet from anyplace on the Internet. Anything else is a private network.

But many mobile service providers, like Vodafone, now sell Internet service, even Broadband Internet service, that is anything but. Specifically they block access to Voice over IP services (which might cost them money), even the sites of companies that offer VOIP software, like Skype.

If they want to sell private network services that reach Internet sites I can't stop them. But I have a problem with their using the word Internet to describe these services, and trademark violation would seem to be at issue.

But for that to be at issue, someone has to own a trademark, and be willing to defend it, as Linus Torvalds now defends the trademark Linux.

Who will do that?

Topic: Browser

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14 comments
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  • Common use?

    Hasn't the word 'Internet' been in common use long enough that no one could trademark it (or at least enforce the trademark)? Wouldn't the trademark have to have been enforced all along?

    Carl Rapson
    rapson
    • re unenforcable?

      i think your right i doubt anyone could enforce the trademark now to much time has passed without it being enforced now(oh and ianal)
      Llandros Loressin
  • Why?

    I mean come on, who really cares?
    No_Ax_to_Grind
    • Misuse of the Internet is a threat

      As more and more users access the internet through wireless
      offers, I believe restriction of the Internet as we know it is a threat.
      The author is right in the sense that these offers are subscriptions
      to a very limited subset of the Internet, and should probably be
      labelled as such before we get to used to it...
      jcollot
      • re mislabeling

        its possible that someone could take the provider to court of misdescribing thier product but i don't think anyone will bother and if noone does the meaning of the word internet just got corrupted/dilluted


        a couple prime examples of this are the word gay (just to just mean very happy on the offchance somoene doesnt know) and the word hacker (which still technicaly means someone who is trying to understand how something works, not some moron who's trying to breech computer security(who wodjl be a cracker) but on this one we have way too many journalists who love to use words that make it look like they understand something when in reality thier less informed than a garden gnome


        word's are always going to be corrupted to new mean's and/or have thier old means diluted we may not like it (andi certaned don't like it in this case) but thats how langues work, thet evolve unles syour already somewhat familir with it you'd probably need a trasnlator to understnad the english langue form 1000 years ago, yet both it and what we use now are enlgish, th elanguae jsut evolved, the trouble is that as means change it can create confusion, and whne companys misuse words they cna get away with offering less for the same price so long as they take stuff away gradually no one evne complains, thne in a few years one of tmh emight wlel start selling upgrade packages where for a bit extra you can access all those things they switched off
        Llandros Loressin
  • "Internet" is not, and cannot be used as a trademark.....

    According to international trademark laws:

    1) [i]International trade mark laws
    It is important to note that although there are systems which facilitate the filing, registration or enforcement of trade mark rights in more than one jurisdiction on a regional or global basis (eg. the Madrid and CTM systems, [b]it is currently not possible to file and obtain a single trade mark registration which will automatically apply around the world. [/b]Trade mark laws are territorial in nature and generally apply only in the applicable country or jurisdiction, a quality which is sometimes referred to as ?territoriality?.[/i]

    Now, considering the Internet is a global network, this in itself would make it impossible to use the term "Internet" as a trademark.

    2) [i]marks which [b]identify or describe a product or service, or which are in common use,[/b] or which are used as geographical indicators, must remain available for use to anyone. For this reason, a generic term such as ?apple? or descriptive terms such as ?red? or ?juicy? generally could not be registered in relation to apples. [/i]

    I think it would be fairly easy to argue that the term "Internet" is to describe [i]a product or service[/i], and is [i]in common use[/i], and that "Internet" is a generic term for all networks that comprise the global "Internet" as we know it.

    According to the [url=http://www.nitrd.gov/fnc/Internet_res.html]"Federal Networking Council"[/url] the Internet is described as:

    [i]"Internet" refers to the global information system that --

    (i) is logically linked together by a globally unique address space based on the Internet Protocol (IP) or its subsequent extensions/follow-ons;

    (ii) is able to support communications using the Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) suite or its subsequent extensions/follow-ons, and/or other IP-compatible protocols; and

    (iii) provides, uses or makes accessible, either publicly or privately, high level services layered on the communications and related infrastructure described herein." [/i]

    Item (iii) highlights the term [b]services[/b] which should satisfy point 2) above.

    All this would seem to indicate that the physical Internet could not be trademarked, and the global term "Internet" that describes could not be used as a trademark.

    But then, I'm not a trademark lawyer....
    Scrat
    • I'm not a lawyer, either

      I appreciate all the work you did to get this to us, Scrat.

      I'm not a lawyer either. I pointed out that there's a need here, a term that is being widely misused and abused in the competitive realm, which people take to mean one thing but is meant as something else by the people abusing it.

      So what can we do about that, if anything?
      DanaBlankenhorn
      • Widely misused and abused?

        That would depend on how you define the "Internet". You state:

        [i]But many mobile service providers, like Vodafone, now sell Internet service, even Broadband Internet service, that is anything but. Specifically they block access to Voice over IP services (which might cost them money), even the sites of companies that offer VOIP software, like Skype[/i]

        However, according to the official (if it can be called that) definition of the Internet by the [url=http://www.nitrd.gov/fnc/Internet_res.html]FNC[/url]:

        [i]"Internet" refers to the global information system that --

        (i) is logically linked together by a globally unique address space based on the Internet Protocol (IP) or its subsequent extensions/follow-ons;

        (ii) is able to support communications using the Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) suite or its subsequent extensions/follow-ons, and/or other IP-compatible protocols; and

        (iii) provides, uses or makes accessible, either publicly or privately, high level services layered on the communications and related infrastructure described herein."[/i]

        Now unless Vodafone are supplying a new type of network, based on new proprietary protocols (e.g. not TCP/IP based), I would argue that they have every right to use the term Internet, and that their network satisfies the criteria as set out by the FNC.
        I believe (and fully agree) that Vodafone should not limit access to services on the Internet, however I think it is very wide of the mark to suggest this constitutes "wide misuse and abuse". Many companies restrict access - consider the blocking of certain outbound ports. Would this lead to a company being accused of misusing the term Internet?

        I think the approach required is to ensure that there is a globally accepted DEFINITION of the Internet, then companies who use the term outside of said definition could be prosecuted for false advertising.
        Scrat
  • RE: Who will defend the Internet trademark?

    well! its an important issue for all the internet users and these who have stake in it. and also for those who want to do business on internet securely and safely. if your business is not secure then its always a risk to do business on internet. just like skype is running on the basis of VOIP and vodafone's interference is blocking this service. that's not good at all. i think all those who are in favor of secure business and a secure world of internet should participate and give some suggestions to solve the issue.
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  • IMPORTANT ISSUE

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  • RE: Who will defend the Internet trademark?

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  • RE: Who will defend the Internet trademark?

    I would like to thank you for the efforts you have made in writing this post.Trademarks are a tricky thing. How does one judge "customer confusion" that an infringement may bring Especially, as has been discussed on these forums before given the lack of research on the average consumers part.
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  • RE: Who will defend the Internet trademark?

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  • Important

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